Skip to Content

Published on July 20, 2009

RIC Ranked "#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America" by U.S. News & World Report for 19th Consecutive Year

RIC Stakes Claim In Advancing AbilityTM Through Rehabilitation Medicine and Patient Care

RIC Ranked "#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America" by U.S. News & World Report for 19th Consecutive YearThe Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the leading physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital in the country, today announced it has been ranked the “#1 rehabilitation hospital in America” for the 19th consecutive year. The rankings are based on a survey of board-certified physiatrists (physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation) as reported in the July 21 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report

RIC’s new “Ability is…” campaign celebrates RIC’s vision to advance human ability. Through science-based rehabilitation care, RIC supports its patients’ individual journeys toward their ultimate outcome – being able to participate in life in a way that is meaningful to them, to each individual patient, catalyzed by their care at RIC.

RIC is staking a claim on Advancing Human AbilityTM through a committed focus on medical innovation and discovery. RIC will translate science into all it does, leading the industry and advancing rehabilitation medicine.

“RIC has chosen this moment of celebration, as the #1 ranked rehabilitation hospital in America for the 19th consecutive year,  to pledge our commitment for the future: To deploy the best of science toward advancing the ability of our patients,” Joanne C. Smith, M.D., president & CEO, RIC. “With this commitment, we embrace an ambitious goal to forge a new paradigm in rehabilitation medicine and to lead our field and our patients into a promising future.”

RIC Stories of Ability

The following patient stories of ability demonstrate RIC’s vision made possible through a combination of research and clinical care. The patients profiled each achieved goals that were meaningful to them, such as kicking a soccer ball, returning to a career, finding a hidden talent and raising children’s. RIC helped these individuals return to their families, hobbies, careers and communities with regained abilities through their experience at RIC.

Eric Weil, MD, 30, Returning To a Full Day on His Feet after Stroke

Last autumn, Eric Weil, MD, a local pediatrician, experienced a severe stroke. When Weil was first admitted to RIC for rehabilitation, he couldn’t talk, walk or do much of anything with his right arm. But, in RIC’s Prime of Life stroke program, Weil participated in physical, occupational and speech therapies to help him reach his goals. ARMEO therapy, an innovative treatment, is one element that helped him regain hand and arm function. The ARMEO is a therapy tool clinically tested at RIC that uses 3-D gaming technology and an adjustable arm support system that mimics a weightless environment allowing patients to move their arms more freely and allowing them to relearn normal arm movements while working in a video-game-like environment. Weil called it “the medical Wii.” Within only a few weeks, Weil regained the ability to walk, talk and move his arm and hand again. “One of the unique things about RIC is that the staff works with the whole person, understanding that there are different ways to recover,” said Weil. Read more about Weil’s story of ability.

Natalie Davis, 11, Kicking A Soccer Ball in Gym Class

Natalie Davis has undergone treatments, surgeries and therapy for her cerebral palsy since she was a toddler. After a muscle-lengthening surgery this past January, Davis came to RIC for rehabilitation to help recover from the surgery and regain better balance, stepping patterns and endurance to walk. She also came to RIC with a very specific goal—to play soccer.  Through RIC’s pediatric Ability is... rehabilitation program, Natalie was able to receive robot-assisted walking therapy on the Lokomat®, a high-tech treadmill with an robotic frame attached by straps to the outside of the legs. It is designed to improve one’s walking pattern, speed and endurance by controlling the movement of the patient’s hip and knee motion.  The computer-controlled format provides users with real-time visual biofeedback on their progress through a virtual reality gaming interface that motivates the children and provides instruction through cartoon characters and games. “It awesome,” remarked Natalie.  

After only a few weeks, Natalie and her mother noticed marked improvements in her posture, strength and endurance. Now, Natalie is enjoying her summer of swimming, bicycling, playing outside and yes—soccer which starts in the fall. Read more about Natalie’s story.

Lauren Niimi, 33, Participating in this Magical Time in Her Children’s Lives

When Lauren Niimi was about 20 weeks into her first pregnancy with Eli, now 3, she experienced pain as a sharp stabbing pain in her lower back during routine climbs up the stairs. The pain got progressively worse, until she could barely walk. She assumed she had no other option but to endure it. Then she was referred to RIC’s Women’s Health Rehabilitation program where a specialized all-women team of physicians and therapists diagnosed the pain as inflammation of the sacroiliac joint where the spine and pelvis meet — a common condition among pregnant women that often goes untreated. “I knew right away I was in the right place,” said Niimi.  Through core strengthening, stretching and body mechanics work, Niimi overcame the pain and went on to have a pain-free pregnancy and safe delivery. She came back for additional care with her second pregnancy. “Actively participating in my kids’ childhoods and making sure they have the best life possible - that is truly what ‘ability’ means to me,” she said. Read more about Niimi.

Michele Lee, 26, Working Long Hours to Climb the Career Ladder

After a car accident left Michele Lee with a spinal cord injury in 2003, she embarked on a worldwide journey to find medical care that would help her regain ability and independence. Though her journey took her from Arizona to China and back, it was in her hometown of Chicago where she found the program that helped her regain independence and find new passions. Lee was admitted to RIC’s Second Look rehabilitation program for patients who have had spinal cord injuries and are looking to refine their goals or work on new ones. Lee reports she literally had to start from scratch.  “A whole new world opened up to her when she realized how much she was going to be able to learn to do,” said Sally Taylor, her physical therapist. While she was relearning basic skills through physical and occupational therapy, in RIC recreational therapy Lee uncovered an entirely new talent: painting. Many patients find art therapy a relaxing way to practice new skills in a quiet environment away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital floor. Few find in it a new passion.

Lee progressed significantly and eventually, with the help of RIC’s vocational rehabilitation program, found a job at Aon Corporation where she now works as a treasury analyst.  “RIC has been a great place to help me realize my full potential,” said Lee. Read more about Lee.

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.