In the US, there are over 400,000 people living with some kind of paralysis. To ensure all their needs are met, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research helped create the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Model System. The Administration for Community Living and the US Department of Health and Human Services sponsors this all-encompassing model system for people with SCI.
The SCI Model System is more than just a badge or bragging rights for an institution. It means the institution is involved in important research and they receive federal funds as a result. To learn more about the SCI Model System, continue reading below.
The SCI Model System references the brick-and-mortar location of several quality SCI rehabilitation institutions across the country. Currently, there are 14 SCI Model System Centers across the country. These institutions meet the high standards required to become part of this prestigious system. In fact, they must be national leaders in medical research and patient care.
Each SCI Model System Center must provide the highest level of comprehensive specialty services available to someone with a spinal cord injury. This means each institution must meet not only the patient’s medical needs but their rehabilitation needs, vocational needs, the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial, and more.
Simply put - the institution must be there for the patient from the beginning of their injury to helping them reenter the community and they must help learn how to live a full life after their injury. When an institution is able to meet all of these criteria, it is then recognized as an SCI Model System Center by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and they’re awarded a grant.
These grants help the SCI Model System institutions continue their high level of care and it helps them conduct important research that the government needs in order to better help people with paralysis. Taking part in this data collection/research is a requirement of being an SCI Model System Center.
Each system center must contribute data to the SCI Model Systems Data Center, also known as the National Spinal Cord Injuries Statistical Center. This is operated by the University of Alabama's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The longest spinal cord injury research database in the world, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center collects, manages, and analyzes the data they receive. Each year they release an SCI data sheet that shares SCI stats such as incidents, prevalence, age at the time of injury, cause of injury, level of injury, and much more.
They also analyze things like the marital status, the educational level, and other background info of people with SCI. Other data as well such as if someone reenters the hospital after their injury is also collected. If you would like to see the latest facts and figures collected each year from the SCI Model Systems, you can access the stats here.