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Patient Care

For patient concerns, call 312-238-1000.

Northwestern University is an educational and research institution. The faculty of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine provide clinical patient care through affiliated hospitals and practice plans. For physician or clinic information or to schedule an appointment, please call the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at 312-238-1000.

Our Clinical Specialties

 Amputation Rehabilitation

The Amputee Program housed at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the most comprehensive program in the country and recognized internationally for excellent care and the ability to fit the most advanced artificial limbs (prostheses) available. The program is designed to help both adults and children who have any type of limb loss.

Artificial limbs are made in our Prosthetics and Orthotics Clinical Center. This is a state-of-the art facility dedicated to fitting all levels of prostheses. The Amputee Program team has been trained in the latest prosthetic technologies.

The Northwestern University Prosthetics and Orthotics Center is the largest prosthetics and orthotics school in the country and is housed next to our Prosthetics and Orthotics Clinical Center.

The largest and most advanced amputee research programs in the country are found at the AbilityLab. These include the Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs and the Northwestern University Prosthetics Research Laboratory. In addition, the Center for Translational Pain Research is studying amputee pain to find new and better treatments. AbilityLab clinical staff participate in these research programs to help advance the field. In addition, many of our patients volunteer for these research projects.

 Arthritis

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a leader in arthritis care and advocacy. The AbilityLab offers comprehensive arthritis rehabilitation for people whose functional abilities have been affected by arthritis (osteoarthritis, psoriatic, rheumatoid), hip fractures, joint replacement, orthopedic conditions, osteoporosis, spine disfiguration as well as balance, rheumatologic or musculoskeletal disorders.

At the institute's flagship hospital, the Arthritis Center provides dedicated care in collaboration with other physician resources that may include rheumatologists and orthopedic specialists from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Comprehensive care plans for Arthritis Center patients are developed in conjunction with the Joint Reconstruction and Implant Service at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Additionally, orthopedic surgeons from Northwestern University provide comprehensive outpatient evaluations in the hip and knee clinic.

 Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Brain injury rehabilitation promotes improved memory and orientation skills as well as the patient's ability to transfer both physical and intellectual skills from the hospital setting to real life. Patients with brain injuries participate in community re-entry groups to strengthen daily living and social interaction skills while initiating a healthy lifestyle through group leisure activities.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has been a leader in rehabilitation services for brain injury survivors for more than two decades. Our patients with brain injury benefit because the AbilityLab is both a teaching and a research institution, at the forefront of medical technological advances. Recently named a Model System Traumatic Brain Injury Center by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab continues to pioneer research, as well as medical and technological advancements for people with traumatic brain injuries.

The AbilityLab meets medical and rehabilitation needs in all categories of acquired brain injury, which include:

  • Anoxic brain injury
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Moderate traumatic brain injury
  • Severe traumatic brain injury
  • Closed head injuries
  • Concussions
  • Brain tumor
  • Disease entities (such as encephalitis)
  • Metabolic disorders that lead to brain injury

 Cancer Rehabilitation

The cancer rehabilitation program is focused on assisting in restoration of function in any patient with cancer and throughout the disease continuum. Due to cancer and the various treatments used to control or cure the disease, cancer survivors may develop a variety of impairments, including cancer-related fatigue, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, lymphedema and weakness affecting their ability to maximize their daily function. After thorough individualized evaluation, including consideration of ongoing potential cancer treatment, recommendations may include rehabilitation interventions in the home, inpatient rehabilitation or the outpatient setting. This care plan will adjust accordingly with changes in the patient’s life, including new medical issues or life changes, such as a new job.

 Chronic Pain Management

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab offers comprehensive rehabilitation services for chronic pain sufferers with ailments that include neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, neuropathic pain, complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), pain associated with rehabilitation diagnoses or chronic headache.

The Chronic Pain Care Center is an outpatient facility of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. As the cornerstone of AbilityLab's chronic pain management services, the Chronic Pain Care Center provides comprehensive services to help and support people whose functional abilities have been diminished due to chronic pain. Treatment plans are designed to help patients develop lifelong pain management skills, manage the debilitating effects of pain and recover their abilities to perform the activities of daily living.

For information or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-844-355-ABLE.

 Medically Complex Rehabilitation

The goal of medically complex rehabilitation is long-term self-management and independence. Treatment plans address mobility, self-care, cognitive abilities (memory, understanding and communication deficits) and endurance for maximum participation in healthy daily living.

Through general rehabilitation, patients — including those who are not candidates for independent living — can achieve an enhanced quality of life. Individual programs may also be developed for patients whose recovery from injury or illness may be complicated by unrelated existing medical conditions, frailty or advanced age.

 Neuromuscular Rehabilitation

The subspecialty of neuromuscular medicine focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of abnormalities of the motor neuron, nerve root, peripheral nerves, neuromuscular junction and muscle. For example, this involves ordering and interpreting tests like MRIs, nerve or muscle ultrasound, gene sequencing and electromyography to name a few. Treatment options for patients with neuromuscular disorders can range from gene and immunotherapy to symptomatic and functional upgrades with the help of a interdisciplinary team of health professionals. While this subspecialty certification has been offered by the American Board of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (ABPMR) since 2008, PM&R-based scientists and physician have been making important contributions in this field for many decades before that.

 Neurorehabilitation

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's approach to neurorehabilitation encompasses both long- and short-term rehabilitation in an inpatient, outpatient or day rehabilitation setting. Treatment addresses sensory, motor, cognitive and behavioral processing, which impact functional performance in people with central nervous system disorders. This includes patients with conditions such as brain tumor, stroke/cva, spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord tumor.

 Orthopedic Rehabilitation

The orthopedic rehabilitation program provides comprehensive rehabilitation services for individuals with orthopedic-related issues, which include bone fractures, joint replacement, osteoporosis, arthritis, hip and knee replacement and tendon repair. In addition, patients who have had spinal surgeries (including spinal stenosis, laminectomy, scoliosis and tumor) can also benefit from orthopedic rehabilitation.

The program's approach for both inpatient and outpatient therapy is to help patients get back to their normal life activities and desired lifestyle in the shortest amount of time. Services are utilized by patients of all ages as well as by employees injured on the job.

 Pediatric & Adolescent Rehabilitation

The Pediatric and Adolescent Program provides rehabilitation for children and adolescents (from birth through 18 years old) who have learning and/or physical disabilities resulting from illness, injury or congenital causes. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab provides the most effective rehabilitation services available to the whole child, taking into account age, disability, preferences and family.

The AbilityLab treats a wide range of conditions. Some of the physical and developmental conditions treated in the program include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Spina bifida
  • Arthritis
  • Burns
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Brain injury
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Brain-related conditions, such as near drowning or systemic infections

 Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

For people who have experienced a spinal cord injury, rehabilitation provides the opportunity for regaining skills, tools and outlook to return to living independently. The goal is to foster productivity and full participation in social, vocational and leisure activities.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has been a recognized leader in providing comprehensive spinal cord injury rehabilitation services for more than 25 years. Designated as the Midwest's First Center for Spinal Cord Injury Treatment and recently named a Model System Spinal Cord Injury Center by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the AbilityLab continues to pioneer research, as well as medical and technological advancements for people with spinal cord injuries.

The AbilityLab offers spinal cord injury rehabilitation services on an inpatient, outpatient and day rehabilitation basis and accommodates patients who are paraplegic, quadriplegic ventilator-dependent.

The multidisciplinary care team is expanded to include consultations with internists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and urologists, as needed.

In addition, resources are available for job re-entry.

 Spine, Sports & Musculoskeletal Medicine

Spine & Sports Medicine and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation provides services for patients of all ages requiring physical rehabilitation services for back, neck and other musculoskeletal conditions, which include sports and work-related injuries. Customized treatment plans are developed using state-of-the-art equipment and diagnostic tools. The over-riding goal being to help the patient manage their condition more effectively and facilitating recovery with emphasis placed on prevention of re-injury.

The treatment plan comprises not only medical care and specialized therapies (physical, occupational, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and spinal injection) but may also incorporate athletic training and orthotics.

Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Centers are outpatient facilities of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, with a strong emphasis on rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions and sports medicine. Comprehensive musculoskeletal services are also offered at several other AbilityLab locations.

 Stroke Rehabilitation

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a national leader in stroke rehabilitation. The AbilityLab helps more people with stroke than almost any other hospital in the country. Research has shown that the healthcare provider's experience can lead to better outcomes and ultimately to a better quality of life. The AbilityLab is the only federally designated Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Stroke by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

New developments in stroke rehabilitation discovered by AbilityLab scientists are brought immediately to our patients, placing them at the forefront of scientific advancement through participation in the newest therapies and clinical trials.

From the inpatient unit designed exclusively for the care and comfort of stroke patients, to the extensive team of physicians, nurses, therapists and others who specialize in stroke rehabilitation, the AbilityLab uniquely combines the most advanced treatments and therapies that will help each individual patient achieve their goals.

The Stroke Program integrates the traditional therapies and specialized services described above, with other novel therapies not typically available elsewhere, including:

  • Task-specific training
  • Development of robotics for the treatment of stroke
  • Body weight–supported treadmill training
  • Clinical drug therapy trials
  • Aphasia management

 Women's Health Rehabilitation

Pregnancy, athletics, osteoporosis or breast surgery may lead to musculoskeletal conditions that can cause pain or weakness at any time throughout a woman's life. Associated functional impairments can limit a woman's mobility and social interactions.

The Women's Health Rehabilitation program offers innovative treatments and therapies, helping women regain their inner strength and once again enjoy active, satisfying lives. All of the physiatrists and physical therapists in the Women's Health Rehabilitation program have advanced training in women's health rehabilitation.

Physiatrists along with physical therapists then create a custom treatment plan designed to strengthen supporting muscles, improve musculoskeletal function and restore the ability to perform activities of daily living and leisure.

Conditions treated include:

  • Pelvic pain and dysfunction
  • Pelvic weakness and incontinence
  • Pregnancy- and postpartum-related needs
  • Post-surgical abdominal and pelvic pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia
  • Lymphedema-, breast surgery– and mastectomy-related conditions
  • Conditions specific to the female athlete

Clinical Trials

Participate in Research

Treatments developed through our investigators' trials might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices or new ways to use existing treatments. Search our list of ongoing trials to learn more or sign up for our registry to participate in a study.

View all  Participant Registry

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