Who is treated in the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger?

The inpatient program at Kennedy Krieger Institute treats children and adolescents up to and including age 21. During fiscal year 2019*, 56 children and adolescents with spinal cord injury/dysfunction were treated in the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Program. The ages ranged from birth to 21 years of age. Most patients were between the ages of 5 and 13 years of age.

Below is the age breakdown of those patients:

A pie chart depicting the age breakdown of patients seen at the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger during FY 2019

Diagnoses Treated

The Spinal Cord Injury Program treats children and adolescents who, collectively, have a variety of diagnoses.

Below is a breakdown of the most common diagnoses treated by the Spinal Cord Injury Program:

A pie chart depicting the most common diagnoses treated by the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger during FY 2019

 

Types of Patients Treated

The patients who come to the Spinal Cord Injury program have functional challenges related to their spinal cord injury. These challenges may include performing daily self-care activities, limitations in mobility, bowel and bladder dysfunction or difficulty breathing.

  • Patients must be medically stable and able to participate in at least three hours of therapy per day
  • Children with tracheostomies and those requiring mechanical ventilation or diaphragm pacing systems are welcome on the inpatient unit

Interdisciplinary Treatment Team

Because patients with spinal cord injury may have complex needs, an experienced interdisciplinary treatment team works with every patient and his or her family.

This team may include:

  • Aquatic therapists
  • Assistive technology professionals 
  • Behavioral psychologists
  • Developmental pediatricians
  • Hospitalists
  • Nurse care managers
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Occupational therapist assistants
  • Occupational therapists
  • Orthopedists
  • Orthotists
  • Pediatricians
  • Physiatrists
  • Physical therapists
  • Physical therapy assistants
  • Psychologists
  • Registered nurses
  • Seating and mobility specialists
  • Social workers
  • Special educators
  • Speech-language pathologists

Where do patients live who are seen by the Spinal Cord Injury Program ?

Patients come from all 50 states and more than 40 countries.

How much therapy do patients receive while being treated in the Spinal Cord Injury Program ?

Patients in the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Program have at least four hours of therapy Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, patients typically receive two hours of therapy.

What happens if a patient gets acutely sick or has a medical emergency while an inpatient at Kennedy Krieger?

Kennedy Krieger has Advanced Life Support-certified medical staff members and nurses on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the equipment and processes in place to respond to medical emergencies. Due to our proximity to and affiliation with The Johns Hopkins Hospital, we are able to admit patients with intensive, but stable medical needs, such as those requiring a ventilator for breathing.

Occasionally, these more intensive medical needs require unplanned transfers to acute care. However, no patients had medical emergencies requiring transfer to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2018 or 2019.

How are patients and their families involved in the care they receive from the Spinal Cord Injury Program ?

No one knows a patient better than his or her family. Kennedy Krieger providers are committed to incorporating family-centered care. The best way to care for a patient is to include his or her family in the patient’s healthcare team. Family members are encouraged to participate in treatment planning, goal setting, family meetings, and education and training sessions.

How long do most patients receive treatment from the Spinal Cord Injury Program?

Treatment varies from one patient to another, based on their needs and goals. In fiscal year 2018*, the average length of stay for all children with spinal cord injury was 46 days. Children with acute spinal cord injury, especially those requiring mechanical ventilation, may be treated as long as 60 to 90 days, if needed.

These lengths of stays are similar to the length of stays at other pediatric rehabilitation hospitals nationwide.

What kinds of improvements might patients be expected to make while receiving treatment from the Spinal Cord Injury Program?

Kennedy Krieger Institute uses WeeFIM for standardized pediatric outcomes measurement. This system is used by pediatric inpatient, outpatient, and community-based rehab programs and provides a simple, consistent, uniform tool that measures function in children.

Patients made improvements in their self-care skills and mobility skills that were similar or exceeded improvements made at other pediatric rehabilitation hospitals nationwide.

Below is data for fiscal years 17 and 18:

A pie chart depicting the improvements made by patients at the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Kennedy Krieger

In fiscal year 2019*:

  • 96 percent of patients reached their rehabilitation goals during their inpatient stay
  • 89 percent of patients with spinal cord injury are discharged home at the end of their rehabilitation stay

Inpatient rehabilitation is the start of an ongoing lifelong program of restoration and rehabilitation focused on improving function, maintaining health and preventing known complications of spinal cord injury. At discharge, patients receive a written home and community rehabilitation program that can be shared with local therapists who may not be as familiar with spinal cord injury rehabilitation. This allows patients to continue to reach ongoing rehabilitation goals.  

What do patients and their families say about their experience with the Spinal Cord Injury Program?

  • 93 percent of parents said the management of their child's pain was average, good or excellent
  • 94 percent of parents said the safety of their child was good or excellent
  • 91 percent of parents said the overall services provided were average, good or excellent
  • 96 percent of parents said the care provided by doctors and nurses was average, good or excellent.
  • 91 percent of parents said the helpfulness and willingness of doctors and nurse practitioners was good or excellent

Does Kennedy Krieger have special accreditation?

Kennedy Krieger Institute is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and The Joint Commission. Every three years, both organizations review the Institute to ensure all its programs meet or exceed the very high standards it sets for the care of its patients.
 

*Fiscal year 2019 is the time frame from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.