Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Program

If you or a loved one have experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI) and are looking for the highest-quality inpatient rehabilitation hospital, look no further than Sheltering Arms Institute’s Dallas Disbro Ability Center. We pride ourselves on partnering with patients and their families to work toward all aspects of functional independence.

Spinal cord injuries can have various impacts on function and independence. It is important to find a facility best suited to meet the needs of you and your loved one for early rehabilitation in order to maximize recovery. Sheltering Arms Institute is a state-of-the-science facility with extensive resources to assist in improving the quality of life for our patients.

Our Model Systems Designation at Sheltering Arms Institute

As one of only 14 federally recognized Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Hospitals in the United States and the only Spinal Cord Injury Model System Hospital in Virginia, Sheltering Arms Institute’s spinal cord injury rehab program has been nationally recognized for its quality of care and innovative thinking.

Model Systems Designation

Your Team of Spinal Cord Injury Experts

During you or your loved one’s recovery following a spinal cord injury, partnering with a specialized rehabilitation team is critical to ensure success. Our team of dedicated clinicians communicates and collaborates to create an individualized plan for each patient who has experienced a spinal cord injury based on his or her condition, barriers, and needs. Our transdisciplinary team includes:

  • Physicians (William McKinley, MD- Director of SCI Medicine)
  • Nurses
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Recreation therapists
  • Upper Extremity (Arm & Hand) Recovery Specialist
  • Locomotor (Walking) Recovery Specialist
  • Assistive Technology & Wheelchair Clinic Specialist
  • Clinical researchers
  • Case managers
  • Peer mentors
  • Community resource partners
  • Support groups
  • Dietitian
  • Psychologists
  • Chaplain

Your Sheltering Arms Institute care team may include three in-house specialists who help further individualize each patient’s plan of care to promote optimal recovery. Each of these specialists focuses on a particular goal from walking recovery to arm and hand recovery to assistive technology management. Access to these specialized clinicians helps ensure you and your loved ones have the Power to Overcome the challenges specific to your spinal cord injury.

Our clinicians not only pursue advanced certifications in spinal cord injury medicine and rehabilitation, but also participate in research to ensure the most up-to-date techniques are being practiced, promoting optimal care for our patients. Our transdisciplinary team of rehabilitation specialists will help guide and teach you how to overcome your spinal cord injury.

Your Therapy

Recovering from a spinal cord injury requires intensive rehabilitation. Our SCI program goes above and beyond traditional therapy offerings to provide comprehensive rehabilitation using our remarkable resources. In addition to the regularly scheduled three hours of physical and occupational therapy each day, patients may participate in a variety of extracurricular recovery programs including Circuit Resistance Training (CRT), Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) biking, Seating and Positioning Clinic, and more! Our rehab team is on-site, providing therapy up to seven days per week. We constantly evolve our programs and develop new strategies to provide additional therapy resources to our patients.

SCI Patient Outcomes at Sheltering Arms Institute


People with Spinal Cord Injury Treated at Sheltering Arms Institute

(as of August 2021)


Percentage of Patients Discharged to the Community


Ages of Spinal Cord Injury Patients Treated at Sheltering Arms Institute


Average Minutes of Intensive Therapy Patients Receive Each Day

Your Education

A spinal cord injury can lead to many questions about how to manage your injury, the recovery process, and expectations for your future. Our education series empowers our patients and their support systems to be active members of the rehabilitation process by offering hands-on training in conjunction with in-class sessions.

We provide group education seminars as well as individualized learning to help our patients understand the changes following an SCI such as overall anatomy, muscle, and organ function. Additionally, courses regarding wheelchair and equipment use are just a few of the courses we encourage every patient to attend.

For family members or caregivers, we also provide family training sessions early on in the rehabilitation journey to improve your awareness of how to assist your loved one.

A Network of Community Support

At Sheltering Arms Institute, we know your needs will continue after you leave our facility. We are committed to helping you on your journey to recovery beyond the inpatient rehabilitation setting. Our connection to the community is important to us, and we have developed a robust community transition program that begins during your inpatient stay in order to ease your concerns about what the next chapter may bring.

We match our patients with support groups, peer mentors, and community partners—including the United Spinal Association of Virginia and Sportable—who visit patients during their inpatient stay for continued connection, education, and coordination of services even after discharge. Additionally, we help our patients set up a care plan for continued therapy after discharge to build upon progress made during inpatient rehabilitation. You are not alone on your road to recovery.

Connect with Our Community Partners Today

Learn About Our Community Partners

Our Technology and Research

We employ the most advanced rehabilitation technology in the country to promote functional recovery, some of which is the first of its kind in the U.S., including robotic exoskeletons, electrical stimulation, bodyweight support, virtual reality, and more. Furthermore, our clinical team develops and implements clinical-practice guidelines that promote the best possible outcomes for spinal cord injury survivors.

Sheltering Arms Institute is proud to partner with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the Central Virginia VA Health Care System to conduct cutting-edge research studies ranging from case studies to larger interventional studies. Our research will lead to the latest evidence-based rehabilitation strategies.

Learn More About Our Technology

Our Rehab Technology

Learn about outpatient therapy for spinal cord injury at Sheltering Arms locations.

Learn about outpatient therapy for this condition at VCU Health.