Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chicago’s Rehab Institute inspires rehab provider

September 27, 2008

I recently read an a article in the Chicago Sun Times reporting how the fabled Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) ( had introduced a new treatment program designed to help stroke patients with aphasia. RIC’s four-week aphasia “boot camp” ( offers stroke survivors speech and language therapy five-to-six hours per day, five days a week. That’s a sharp contrast to the two hours of weekly outpatient treatment received by the majority of aphasia patients.
Innovative treatments for problems such as aphasia are typical of RIC’s approach to rehabilitation. Such programs offer a partial explanation of why U.S. News and World Report has chosen RIC as the "#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America" for some 17 years running. No other specialty hospital has received a comparable ranking for such an extended period of time.
RIC is clearly and leader and innovator in rehabilitation. Following are just some of the elements and programs that make RIC a consistent winner:
Technological breakthroughs: RIC never stops pushing the envelope of high-tech innovation. In September 2008, it announced a robotic solution that helps stroke patients walk, while its bionic arm was featured on ABC’s “Medical Mystery.”
Social responsibility: RIC doesn’t just care for its rehab patients; it empowers members of the disabled community. In August 2008, RIC sent three disabled athletes to participate in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Telling the patient’s story: RIC has a tradition of telling “stories of restored ability.” Recently, RIC received world-wide media coverage for its success in saving a two-year old Vietnamese boy who had been left in the jungle to die and was mauled by animals before being saved by a group of monks. .
Mission + passion =success: RIC launched its “What A Difference ONE Can Make” campaign, which showcases how RIC patients, employees and community supporters act upon RIC’s mission, vision and values “to make meaningful differences in the world each and every day.”
This is just a partial portrait. RIC has achieved respect and notoriety in many areas, including strategic alliances, research, quality tracking and reporting, specialized services, condition management and a team approach to treatment. While the majority of rehab providers may never achieve RIC’s standing and celebrity status, we can learn from its successes, mission, philosophy and vision “to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”

Monday, September 1, 2008

Exercise still transforms the lives of rehab patients

September 1, 2008
Let’s not give up on the basics

In the era of telemedicine, clinical and business healthcare information systems and other technological marvels, it’s comforting to realize that exercise still delivers incredible benefits to rehab patients. One recent study tells the tale. Stroke patients who walk on a treadmill can improve their health and mobility—sometimes years after stroke damage occurs. Exercise actually retrains the brains and bodies of stroke victims, according to research from Johns Hopkins ( appearing in the August 28, 2008 issues of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association (
Researchers from Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and the Department of Veterans Affairs Maryland VA Medical Center Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) ( are convinced that this latest piece of research carries several important implications: Exercise can help in treating stroke damage, allowing both the brain and body to recover. Moreover, the treadmill exercise program helps patients’ brain rewire months and even years after initial stroke damage.
What the study also suggests is that rehab professionals need not limit themselves to short-term improvements of stroke patients. Instead, we can focus on long-term improvements, knowing that patients derive benefit from walking on a treadmill even decades after a stroke. For example, one patient in the Hopkins study still experienced the benefits of treadmill exercise some 20 years after having a stroke.
Speaking of the benefits of exercise in rehab, let’s not forget about the power of WiiFit
Sue Stanley-Green, a professor of athletic training at Florida Southern College, believes that WiiFit and other fitness-related games have significant potential for strength training and help boost compliance with rehabilitation exercises ( Even nursing homes are experimenting with WiiFit. In fact, bowling has become such a favorite at nursing homes that staffs have organized tournaments involving 20 seniors.