Providing Model Care for SCI, TBI and Burn Patients
Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is one of two organizations nationally to be awarded the prestigious designation as having 3 Model Systems- in SCI, TBI and Burn Injury Rehabilitation. This honor is awarded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)- a division of the US Department of Education-and focuses on three main programmatic areas: Continuum of Care, Research and Education Dissemination.
This means that Spaulding’s programs in SCI, TBI and Burn Injury Rehabilitation have been recognized as regional centers of excellence and national models of care. Not only is this an acknowledgement of the excellent clinical care that is already provided, but means that patients will continue to receive model care in inpatient, outpatient, home and community settings. Simply put, patients admitted to a model system of care will not “fall through the cracks”.
Spaulding did not receive the model systems designation alone; its acute care partners for SCI and TBI are MGH and BWH, and for the Burn Program, its acute care partners are MGH and Shriners Hospital for Children. The Spaulding TBI Model System has two rehabilitation facilities in its continuum- Spaulding Boston and Spaulding Hospital Cambridge. This establishes the core network for all three programs; although patients admitted to the Spaulding TBI, SCI or Burn Programs from any acute care hospital will receive the benefits of the Model Programs.
The first pillar of a Model Systems program is the Continuum of Care, where patients are closely followed through the acute, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient, home care and community settings. A nurse care manager or designee follows patients through the continuum, ensuring that patients have access to the services they need, when they need them. They help to identify resources for ongoing medical care, housing, vocational support, social support and overall community re-integration resources. This is especially helpful for patients who have experienced a significant disability as a result of a TBI, SCI or Burn.
The next pillar of Research provides a significant benefit to patients enrolled in a Model System. Each program is part of a well-established, national database where practitioners have access to demographic and outcomes data from thousands of patients with similar diagnoses. This allows clinicians to have a better understanding of a patient’s care needs and prognosis based on their specific diagnosis. The databases have also resulted in changes in the way care is provided, and what areas are important for further research.
For example, kidney problems, including Urinary Tract Infections, used to be a leading cause of death for SCI patients. The SCI Model Systems database, which was established in 1973 and contains information on over 30,000 patients, helped to identify this mortality trend. Because this trend was identified, Urology care for SCI patients has increased significantly, and now kidney problems have dropped to the 4th leading cause of death.
In addition to enrollment in the national database, each Model System conducts their own site-specific research, and collaborative research projects with one or more partners. Any patient admitted to the Spaulding SCI, TBI or Burn Program can be enrolled in research studies if they meet the eligibility criteria.
The final pillar of a Model System program is the Dissemination of Education- for patients, families, providers and policy makers. Because NIDRR is a division of the Department of Education, this is a critical component of a Model Systems program, and Spaulding must meet the stringent criteria for ongoing education. The types of information provided include medical issues, care needs and resources available to patients and caregivers. It is delivered in multiple mediums to ensure that individuals with any type of disability can access it.
The Spaulding programs provide a variety of information through brochures and flyers, websites, lecture series, Podcasts, blogs and interactive learning modules (ILMs). Each program is at a different level of maturity in their designation, so focus on each pillar continues to grow.
Spaulding is honored to be recognized for its outstanding Model Systems care, and is firmly committed to maintain this designation into the future. For more information on the Spaulding programs, please contact:
SCI Model System
Program Director: Leslie Morse, MD
Contact: Helen Stott, Research Coordinator
TBI Model System
Program Director/Principal Investigator: Joe Giacino, PhD
Contact: Cecilia Carlowicz, Research Assistant
Burn Model System
Program Director: Jeffrey Schneider, MD
Contact: Katie Mathews, Research Assistant