Spinal Cord FAQ

How long will I be on the rehab unit?

The average length of stay is just under two weeks. For persons with paraplegia, the average stay is two weeks. For persons with tetra or quadriplegia, the average stay is closer to four weeks. This time frame may seem short, but it is similar to national averages. We have also found that going home as soon as possible while continuing therapy – either at home or as an outpatient – has many physical and psychological benefits. Our system of care encompasses all of these treatment areas and will continue to be a resource for as long as you need our services.

Will I be able to take care of myself to live independently again?

It will depend upon your specific type of injury and other factors, such as your previous fitness level, age and available support systems. Persons with paraplegia and full use of their arms will generally be able to fully care for themselves and live independently at time of discharge from rehabilitation. Persons with tetra or quadriplegia may need some help for daily living tasks but are expected to be fully independent.

Continued recovery will occur for many months following discharge from the acute rehabilitation phase, during which home health and outpatient services will provide further progress toward the goal of caring for yourself. Our staff will also connect you to community resources such as the Center for Independent Living, Illinois Assistive Technology Program and the Department of Rehabilitation Services to ensure you have access to all available community programs to enhance and promote independence.

Will I walk again?

Physicians and therapists are often asked this question. According to the American Spinal Injury Association, recovery does have predictable patterns based on diagnoses or severity of injury to the spinal cord. We use this association's guidelines to help guide our practice; however, each person can expect to recover in unique ways. There is never an absolute answer to this question. Recovery has been reported to continue for up to several years after the initial injury, and with ongoing research, new possibilities for recovery are emerging. With this in mind, our team will incorporate partial body weight supported walking, standing frames, long leg braces and electrical stimulation in order to promote walking as soon as possible for persons medically appropriate for these activities.

Will I be able to go back to work?

Returning to previous life roles is a key goal of rehabilitation. Our team of experts will work with you and your employer to allow return to your previous form of work if at all possible. If after all avenues have been explored, and return to previous job is not possible, we will connect you with Vocational Rehabilitation, a program through the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) from the State of Illinois that specializes in getting people with disabilities back to work.

Will I be able to have sex or have children with this injury?

During rehab, we will talk with you in a private setting about both sexuality and fertility issues. You can ask questions and talk about your personal concerns. Regarding fertility, there are many medical treatments and advances that can help people with a spinal cord injury in family planning. Information and referrals to specialty fertility clinics can be arranged.  For more information, call 217-788-3302 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.