Awarded Major NIDRR Stroke Grant - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC in the News

Published on December 19, 2008

RIC Awarded Major NIDRR Grant to Advance Rehabilitation Care for 6 Million Living with Stroke

Grant Positions RIC as Largest Federally Funded Rehabilitation Research Program Dedicated to Setting Standards in Stroke, Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Care

The X-Glove, pictured above,
is one of the projects
undertaken as part of the
RRTC grant to improve stroke

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the nation’s #1 rehabilitation hospital[1], today announced its fourth designation as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) Stroke Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC), developed to advance rehabilitation care for the nearly six million[2] people living with stroke.

This award, along with many other federal grants that RIC has been awarded from NIDRR, allows RIC to explore the breadth and depth of research initiatives necessary to deliver cutting-edge clinical services and treatments to patients and to set standards in rehabilitation care.

“RIC is unique in the large number of grants that it has received from NIDRR, all of which support the work of researchers to explore new treatments and technologies for people living with stroke, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and other disabling conditions,” said Elliot Roth, MD, project director of the RIC Stroke Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and chairman of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “Through these research efforts, RIC will continue creating and refining scientific-based standards of care that help patients with severe injuries regain abilities to flourish in their lives.”

This Stroke RRTC grant will explore programs and technologies that enhance the functional and employment opportunities for patients with stroke including:

  • Utilizing robotic devices to study the effectiveness of stretching hand therapy to help improve hemiparesis, a common effect of stroke
  • Developing a low-cost, non-mechanized gait-training device to help patients regain balance and the ability to walk
  • Examining the return-to-work experience from the perspective of the person who has had a stroke to identify challenges and factors that enable the process
  • Utilizing virtual-reality technologies to develop a return-to-work assessment tool as a way to help patients and families better prepare for the transition

In addition, the grant will all RIC to develop and evaluate comprehensive training methods for clinicians, researchers, stroke patients and their family members. RIC also will hold a scientific conference in 2011 to review the current progress of functional and vocational assessments, return-to-work, technology to enhance employment, and rehabilitation in the home and community.

Other collaborating organizations on this grant include the National Stroke Association; the National Aphasia Association; Northwestern University; the University of Illinois at Chicago; Washington University; Marquette University and Archeworks Inc., an alternative design school based in Chicago.

RIC offers multiple stroke-related services and programs including the Prime-of-Life Stroke Rehabilitation program, an inpatient program designed for stroke patients whose vigorous lives demand aggressive interventions as well as day rehabilitation and outpatient programs. RIC offers the Intensive Aphasia Therapy program, an outpatient program that offers intensive speech therapy for patients who have aphasia, a communication disorder resulting from some neurological injuries including stroke. RIC also provides innovative services such as ARMEO arm therapy, a state-of-the-art tool using gaming technology to conduct arm rehabilitation therapy with patients who have hemiparesis, or paralysis, due to a stroke. Additionally, RIC offers educational and support resources such as the Stroke Club and multiple aphasia groups, which offer group recreational and support opportunities for people living with stroke.

About the NIDRR Midwest Regional Traumatic Brain Injury Model System

In 2008, NIDRR designated RIC’s Brain Injury Medicine and Rehabilitation program a Model System of Care, one of 16 facilities in the United States to which this distinction is awarded. The program, then named the Midwest Regional Traumatic Brain Injury Model System, is dedicated to exploring treatments that improve cognition, function and community living for people with traumatic brain injury.

About the NIDRR Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System

In 2007, NIDRR designated RIC’s Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation program a Model System of Care, then named the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System, a collaboration of rehabilitation care provided by RIC and acute care provided by Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH). NIDRR's grant will support projects related to the accessibility, delivery, and evaluation of spinal cord injury care and the use of advanced technology to improve long-term health benefits for spinal-cord-injured patients.

About The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is making a difference in the world for people with disabilities.  RIC provides world-class care to patients from around the globe for a range of conditions from acute brain and spinal cord injury to chronic arthritis, pain and sports injuries.  RIC, founded in 1954, has been designated the "#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America" by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991 and attributes its leading standard of care in part to its innovative research and discovery, particularly in the areas of bionic medicine, robotics, neural regeneration, pain care and better outcomes. RIC operates its 165-bed, Flagship hospital in downtown Chicago, as well as a network of 30 sites of care located throughout the city and surrounding suburbs that provide additional inpatient care, day rehabilitation and outpatient services. RIC also maintains strategic alliances with leading healthcare providers throughout the state of Illinois and Indiana.

[1] U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIC the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital ” every year since 1991.

[2] American Heart Association: Heart Disease and Stroke Update 2008