Four rehabilitation physicians surround a spinal cord injury patient in therapy

Spinal Cord Injury



Following a spinal cord injury (SCI), the ability to return home and to the community with the highest degree of lifelong independence possible -with a minimized risk for secondary complications - is closely related to initial inpatient rehabilitation. That's why we make sure the rehab experience is as effective and valuable as it can be through a combination of staff, experience, expertise and scope of services that are unmatched on the West Coast and the surrounding region.


Since the Rehabilitation Center began treating individuals with spinal cord injuries in 1941, thousands of men, women, adolescents and children have trusted us with their care. Each year an average of 150 people receive inpatient rehab for SCI in a specialized, 32-bed unit dedicated to spinal cord injury care. These high numbers of patients translate directly into more experience across all aspects of rehabilitation, which, in turn, helps create better patient outcomes including much higher than average discharge-to-home statistics and functional gains right after leaving the Rehabilitation Center and over time.


The Rehabilitation Center at SCVMC is staffed with more SCI-boarded physicians than any other rehabilitation center on the West Coast. The health professionals who make up our multidisciplinary team of nurses, therapists, social workers, case managers, psychologists, and other physician specialists also have extensive experience and skills in the area of spinal cord injury rehabilitation.


Having a comprehensive range of specialists across multiple rehab disciplines means we can bring together a team that best meets your specific diagnosis and level of injury. This high degree of personalized involvement, directed to an individual, not a condition, makes up an important part of your care during inpatient rehabilitation and also helps guide your ongoing recovery when you return home.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Unit has won the 2017 Five Star National PRC Award for Excellence in Patient Care!
Our outstanding care has been recognized once again by our patients. This is the 3rd consecutive year we have won this award, which reflects consistent scoring above the 90th percentile nationally based on patient feedback on surveys done following discharge.
PRC Excellence-Badge.png

We love what we do, and it shows in our National Ranking for excellence in Patient Care!

Hydroworx therapy pool


  • Accredited by the Joint Commission and certified by Medi-Cal and Medicare.
  • Seven accreditations by the Commission of the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for adult and children/adolescent rehabilitation in spinal cord injury, brain injury, and stroke.
The Joint Commision and CARF logo 

Background on Care for Spinal Cord Injury


Learn what happens when the spinal cord is injured & how to prevent an injury.

Patient StorIES


A spinal cord injury didn’t stop Lauren. Watch her back at home living life.


Philip’s rehab team, family, and hard work helped him return to his winery.


A ground-breaking stem cell clinical trial helped Katie recover quicker.


Spinal Cord Injury Patient Outcomes

How satisfied were our patients with their care?

  • 95% of our patients rated their care as good to excellent.
  • 92% of our patients would recommend our hospital to their friend and family.

Where did our patients get discharged to? 

  • 84% of our TSCI patients were discharged to a home setting compared to a national average of only 73%. 82% of our NTSCI patients were discharged to a home setting compared to a national average of only 77%.
  • 4% of our TSCI patients were discharged to a skilled nursing facility compared to the national average of 14%. 7% of our NTSCI patients were discharged to a skilled nursing facility compared to the national average of 12%.

How complex are the patients we treat medically?

Based on case mix index, a measurement of the complexity of the medical needs, our patients were nearly 18.6% more medically complex than the national average.

Who are our patients? 

  • The average age for patients with TSCI was 40 years old and the average age for patients with NTSCI is 62, with an overall average patient age of 49.
  • We serve adolescents starting at age 14 with an individualized, developmentally appropriate plan of care.
  • 73% of the patients were male and 27% were female.
  • Patients stayed an average of 22 days in the hospital.

Quality of Life:

95% of our patients agree that the rehab program prepared them for going home.​

Female spinal cord injury patient in bed smiling surrounded by therapists

A snapshot of our spinal cord injury patients

  • 69% of our patients are male
  • 50% of our patients' injuries are motor vehicle related
  • 15% of our patients were injured in falls, and 12% in sports activities. Diving is the leading cause of sports injuries.
  • Approximately 55% of our patients have American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) "incomplete" injuries, meaning there is motor and/or sensory sparing below the level of the injury at the time of admission
  • The average time from the date of injury to admission to SCVMC is 11 days, and the length of stay in inpatient rehabilitation averages 27 days
  • The average length of stay for spinal cord injury patients at SCVMC is 30 days
  • 85% of our patients return home
  • 45% of our patients are engaged in some type of employment or school at one-year after their injury
  • We serve adolescents starting at age 14

Special Spinal Cord Injury Programs​

The Peer Support Program

This free resource for individuals with spinal cord injury matches current patients with former patients who have faced similar challenges. This peer relationship adds an important level of encouragement and support during rehabilitation and in the community after discharge. Clinical psychologists provide individual and group counseling to both patients and families and a number of speakers join the groups to offer information and share experiences. 

The program also gives participants the opportunity to network with other members of the spinal cord injury community and learn more about local resources and services that are available in their home communities. Issues and concerns frequently discussed include coping, attitudinal barriers, accessibility, referrals, parenting, relationships and intimacy, adaptive technologies and educational and job opportunities. These sessions are free of charge, private, and confidential.

Male physician talking with two rehabilitation patients in the therapy gym

Respiratory rehabilitation Unit (RRU)

Critical Services for Patients, a Valuable Resource for Referring Physicians:
The Respiratory Rehabilitation Unit is a unique component of our overall rehabilitation program. The availability of this intensive care setting within the Rehabilitation Center allows for earliest possible admission and treatment following a spinal cord injury, providing rehabilitation-focused care for medically complex patients including those who have just had or are about to have surgery.
The use of medical intensivists in the RRU, physicians who specialize in the care of critically ill or injured patients, is an approach that SCVMC helped pioneer and is a valuable complement to the work of the spine surgeon and neurosurgeon in the operating room. Although the RRU primarily treats individuals with spinal cord injury, patients with traumatic brain injury accompanied by respiratory concerns are also cared for in this distinctive medical setting.

The Trauma Center is also equipped with a helipad, and accepts patients from across Silicon Valley. Having the highest level of emergency response on the same campus as the Rehabilitation Center means that patients don’t have to be transferred to other facilities if the need for a higher level of care arises.
High Quadriplegic Program - A note to physicians:
The Rehabilitation Trauma Center provides around-the-clock respiratory management for ventilator dependent patients. Our specialization in invasive and non-invasive respiratory technology has resulted in an outstanding record of successful vent weaning and home discharge. In addition, our rate of pulmonary emboli occurrence is exceptionally low and therapeutic bronchoscopies average less than one per 100 patients.

Couple talking with rehabilitation therapist

Patient and Family Education

Designed as an ongoing educational series, this program offers guest speakers and other presentations and activities that focus on patient and family concerns and lifetime care following spinal cord injury. Individuals with spinal cord injury will have the opportunity to network with other members of the spinal cord injury community and will be informed about local resources and services that are available in their community.

Women with Disabilities Healthcare Clinic

This specialized resource is designed for women with disabilities to receive routine health care. The Women with Disabilities Health Care Clinic promotes long-term gynecological and general health maintenance for women with brain injuries and other disabilities in a safe and comfortable environment. The clinic has a wheelchair-accessible scale and a pelvic examination table, which can be lowered to allow transfers from a wheelchair level. All staff members at the clinic have the training and the sensitivity to meet the needs of women with disabilities. For more details, please call (408) 885-5920.