RIC Breaks Ground for New Hospital - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Skip to Content

Published on July 01, 2013

RIC Launches New Era in Rehabilitation Medicine, Breaks Ground on New Research Hospital

U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk, beneficiary of RIC’s advanced rehabilitation treatment, Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel to speak

RIC's New Hospital - Architects RenderingCHICAGO – A new era in physical medicine and rehabilitation starts today. That’s when the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) breaks ground for a $550 million research hospital that will transform the field by uniting research and clinical care to advance human ability.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and RIC President and CEO, Dr. Joanne C. Smith, will speak today at the groundbreaking event, which begins at 9 a.m. at the site of the new hospital, two blocks south of the RIC’s current flagship. An interactive area with live demonstrations of RIC’s cutting-edge innovations, including bionic limbs and wearable robots, will showcase RIC’s pioneering work in biomedical science.

Recognized for more than 20 years as the nation’s best rehabilitation hospital, RIC will disrupt the field yet again by introducing a novel model of care that will set the global standard to deliver faster and better outcomes for patients. The heart of RIC’s audacious new approach to physical medicine is the fluid integration of researchers, engineers, doctors, nurses, therapists and patients working to identify real-time research breakthroughs that are immediately translated to patient care.

“This is far more than a new hospital. We are reinventing and reframing a model of physical medicine and rehabilitation that did not exist until now – embedding research and clinical care, 24/7,” said Dr. Smith. “Most medical institutions have research facilities separate from hospitals. At RIC, however, everyone will be in the same place, working shoulder to shoulder around each patient.”

Futuristic Model of Care

Central to the new hospital will be five Innovation Centers that leverage RIC’s core expertise and market leadership in brain, spinal cord, neuro-musculoskeletal, pediatric and cancer research and recovery. Each Innovation Center will introduce a futuristic model of care that infuses 21st century biomedical science into the clinical environment in ways unlike any other hospital. All human-subject research, applied research and proof-of-concept testing will be embedded with the clinical units in dynamic spaces, called AbilityLabs™.

As the active nucleus of each Innovation Center, the five uniquely designed AbilityLabs will bring together clinicians and patients in the same space as scientists, engineers and device developers to focus on the most important challenges their patients face. Inspiration will abound when these teams are intimately knit together with the single-minded purpose to advance a patient’s ability. The concept was first introduced in January 2012 via a test-bed prototype on the ninth floor of the current hospital.

“This integrated model of care enables research to become available for patients 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 world’s only AbilityLabs will address speech and cognition (speak and think), fine motor (arms and hands), gait and locomotion (legs and walking), coordination and endurance (total body) and pediatrics (all abilities for kids). Each of the differentiated AbilityLabs will have unique configurations based on its purpose.

“This is a great day for rehabilitation research,” said Sen. Kirk, who received state-of-the-art, integrated research and clinical care in RIC’s prototype AbilityLab after his stroke last year. “My research and clinical team worked side-by-side with me to help me achieve a number of personal goals. Whenever I thought the task was impossible, everyone at the RIC said, ‘You will be able to.’ I am living proof of the extraordinary work of this institution and humbled by the generosity of donors who are helping to advance its mission.”

Urgent and Ever-Growing Need

Nowhere has this extraordinary work made more of an impact than on the nation’s military healthcare system. RIC’s commitment to developing rehabilitation services for veterans dates back 60 years. Bionic limb innovations led by RIC’s Dr. Todd Kuiken and Dr. Levi Hargrove have enabled injured veterans to gain the ability to use their lost limbs via prosthetics that can be controlled by thought.

“The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is a key reason why Chicago is regarded as a world-class city for medical research and innovation,” said Sen. Durbin, who announced in March two bills that support the prosthetics and orthotics field. “RIC is also a critical partner in providing our nation’s service members and veterans with the high-quality care they deserve. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony will help ensure that standard of care continues for generations to come.”

The need for this novel model of care is accelerating with the aging population, the extension of life spans through better medical technologies and the increasing survival rates from cancer. More than 600,000 people are affected by limb loss in the United States alone, and that number is growing. The urgent and ever-growing demand exceeds RIC’s current physical capacity and forces it to turn away hundreds of patients.

Projected to open in fall 2016, the 1.2 million-square-foot facility will have an initial capacity of 242 beds and 900,000 square feet dedicated to clinical and research programs, nearly three times the current research space.

“As the city’s highest ranked hospital, RIC’s rehabilitation research and therapy constantly reinforces the City of Chicago’s position as the national leader in bioscience,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The new research hospital will only advance its reputation and our efforts to make Chicago the hub of the bioscience industry.”

The new facility also will extend RIC’s outreach around the world. Although RIC currently invests significant resources in education and training, the new facility will allow it to better serve the field through conferences and training seminars.

“This is an unprecedented investment in medicine and science that will instantly set a new global standard,” said M. Jude Reyes, chairman of the board of RIC. “Most importantly, we will transform the lives of patients. We will advance human ability.”

View a live stream of the groundbreaking event from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. CDT at http://RICGroundbreaking2013.xtvguide.com

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is the nation’s top-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 eight 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.