New Patient Recovery Unit - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Published on March 01, 2012

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Opens New Patient Recovery Unit

One-of-a-kind AbilityLab™ integrates research and clinical care to create better recoveries faster

Newly renovated floor adds 24 new beds to accommodate more patients

Chicago, IL –  With the opening of the world’s first AbilityLab™, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is taking a major step toward accelerating the way medical research drives better recoveries for patients.

“RIC’s newest Patient Recovery Unit will increase capacity for more patients and fuse active medical research with clinical care, while also serving as a live test-bed for new technology, new design, and innovation that will translate into the planning for RIC’s new Research Hospital,” said Dr. Joanne C. Smith, president and CEO at RIC.

The new unit significantly expands the number of inpatient beds at RIC to 182 to accommodate RIC’s growing patient population.

The AbilityLab™, a key feature of the brand new 24-bed Patient Recovery Unit at RIC’s flagship hospital in downtown Chicago, is a unique space that brings researchers into the patient care setting, where they are collaborating daily with doctors, nurses and therapists. Researchers are gaining new insight into ways they can solve patient problems faster, and also sharing the most recent research findings with patients and their care teams. “Once research is accepted for publication in a professional journal, it can take up to 10 years before it’s used regularly by practitioners,” said George Hornby, PT, PhD, research scientist at RIC’s Locomotor Recovery Lab in the Sensory Motor Performance Program. “This approach dramatically shortens the time it takes for research to become best practice.”

Opened in January, the new unit also features a variety of revolutionary technologies such as the antigravity gait track that runs throughout the entire unit. Supported by a harness suspended from the ceiling-mounted track, patients can walk while bearing as much of their own body weight as possible--movement proven to benefit every system of the body and enhance recovery, according to Hornby. The unit also has bodyweight-supported treadmills, which are used to help patients regain balance and endurance, and a Lokomat®, which provides robot-assisted walking therapy. Such leading-edge technology on the new unit enables RIC to provide state-of-the-art treatment for patients with gait-related issues caused by stroke, injury to the brain or spinal cord, or other neuro-muscular impairments.

RIC is also piloting new technologies in “smart rooms” including lighting that complements a patient’s natural circadian rhythm and 42-inch flat-screen monitors that provide a combined in-room system for patient education, entertainment and communication. Along with modern design that serves both aesthetic and functional purposes, the new 24-bed unit enables RIC to explore many new ways to Advance Patient Ability.

About The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is the nation’s #1-ranked provider of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation care to patients from around the world and is the leader in research and development of the cutting-edge treatments and technologies in its field. Through aggressive medical protocols, RIC guides the patient care process toward a better outcome. 

RIC holds an unparalleled market distinction with a record seven, multi-year, multi-million dollar federal research designations awarded and funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Education’s National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the areas of spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, neurological rehabilitation, outcomes research and rehabilitation engineering research.  RIC operates its 182-bed, current flagship hospital in downtown Chicago, as well as a network of more than 59 sites of care distributed throughout the Midwestern region, through which it delivers inpatient, day rehabilitation and outpatient services.

Founded in 1954, RIC has been designated the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC sets the standard of care in the post-acute market through its innovative applied research and discovery programs, particularly in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer. For more information, go to