Skip to Content

Published on July 01, 2013

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Announces New Name for Research Hospital

The Ability Institute of RIC will launch a new paradigm for physical medicine and rehabilitation

RIC's New Hospital - Architects RenderingCHICAGO – Underscoring dramatic differences between how physical medicine and rehabilitation is practiced today and how it will be performed in the future, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) today announced the name for its $550 million research hospital: The Ability Institute of RIC.

RIC President and CEO Dr. Joanne Smith unveiled the name during a groundbreaking ceremony that featured endorsements from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill), a former patient of RIC.

“RIC is known worldwide for excellence and innovation,” said Dr. Smith. “Yet, this new research hospital is so unusual in its design, so forward thinking in the way it encourages translational science, and so extraordinary in its approach to care that simply calling it a ‘rehabilitation hospital’ wouldn’t do it justice.

“What we are creating at RIC’s Ability Institute is an environment that redefines the field. We are moving beyond the process of rehabilitation to the outcome of advancing human ability. We are thinking differently about what we do and how we behave in the practice of rehabilitation medicine. And we start today.”

Radical New Concept

Central to RIC’s Ability Institute’s approach to physical medicine and rehabilitation is a radically new concept: the AbilityLab™. Unlike traditional “therapy gyms” that are limited in service scope, the AbilityLab operates as a dynamic space where research is embedded with clinical care.

Research in these labs – five in all – is not theoretical. Rather, it is inspired by challenges that patients face today. Physicians, scientists, engineers, therapists and innovators of many kinds will work side-by-side around a patient in a space specifically designed to spark innovation. These teams will ask targeted research questions, test new therapies and develop data-driven solutions.

The AbilityLab’s integrated care model – and the immediate exchange of information that it fosters – will allow patients to benefit from research results sooner.

“Breakthrough research that used to take 10 years from lab to scientific journal to hospital may now be introduced to patients right away,” said Dr. Smith. “We will see an enormous acceleration in our ability to understand and to solve patient’s problems. The Ability Institute of RIC is the re-invention of research and care in the service of Human Ability.”

Projected to open late in 2016, the 1.2 million-square-foot facility will open with a 242-bed capacity and 900,000 square feet dedicated to clinical and research programs, nearly three times the current research space. The new hospital will bring approximately 500 new clinical jobs and 1,460 new construction jobs to Chicago. It will be located at 355 East Erie Street, two blocks south of the current hospital.

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. Ranked #1 by both U.S. News and World Report and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, RIC holds an unparalleled market distinction.

With a record six 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, brain injury, stroke, neurological rehabilitation, outcomes research, bionic medicine/rehabilitation engineering research, and pediatric orthopedics, RIC operates the largest rehabilitation research enterprise in the world.

RIC also operates its 182-bed, flagship hospital in downtown Chicago, as well as a network of more than 40 sites of care distributed throughout the Midwest, 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 www.ric.org.

Journalists contact: mediarelations@ric.org, 312-238-4571.

All others contact: webmaster@ric.org.