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SCI/D Peer Support Nationwide

United Spinal and The Buoniconti Fund Strengthen SCI/D Peer Support Nationwide by creating a national network of peer support groups to set higher standards in assisting people living with SCI/D. For more information click here.

UsersFirst program

Jenn Wolff, a disability advocate, lobbyist and Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2011, has been selected to spearhead our UsersFirst program and its mission to ensure greater access to appropriate wheelchairs for people with disabilities.  For more information click here.

Can I Walk Again? The Latest Technology on Motion Therapy

April 10th at 3:00 PM.

This webinar session will address the latest in technology as it relates to motion therapy; Topics covered include: Locomotion Treadmill Training, Robotic Repetitive Motion, Exoskeletons, FES and more.

SPEAKERS: Jennifer French, Executive Director; Neurotech Network and Kim Anderson-Erisman, Ph.D.; Research Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery-Director of Education, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis; University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

To register click here.

31st Annual James W. Rae Scientific Day and Lecture

This event commemorates the lifetime achievements of James W. Rae, MD, a pioneer in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation and the first Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. When Dr. Rae established the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in 1950, he also established the University of Michigan as one of the first major medical institutions in the United States to organize and develop an independent physical medicine and rehabilitation department. Patient care, teaching, and research are the cornerstones on which the University of Michigan’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation was founded and, under Dr. Rae’s leadership, these programs experienced steady growth and development. Dr. Rae served as Chair of the Department until 1977.

The program for James W. Rae Day traditionally includes original scientific papers by members of the Michigan Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as papers by staff and alumni of the University of Michigan Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. We invite all physicians, residents, staff, students, and other individuals interested in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation to join us for this educational opportunity. The seminar will be held at the Kensington Court Hotel at 610 Hilton Boulevard, Ann Arbor, MI, which is located just west of the State Street (exit 177) exit off I-94. The hotel is about 20 minutes away from Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW). For more information visit:


SCIMS Professional Lecture Update: Does who you are influence your hospitalization after spinal cord injury?

Postdoctoral fellow, Elham Mahmoudi, presented an interactive lecture regarding her current research. The lecture took place at MedRehab and involved clinicians including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapist from the University of Michigan Health System, as well as UM SCIMS research staff.  Elham discussed the impact of a variety of traits on hospitalization and re-hospitalization among people with SCI. The lecture group further discussed the impact of socioeconomic characteristics on hospitalization and barriers to treatment. UM SCIMS strives to provide multiple professional and consumer lectures each year on topics relating to SCI. Keep your eyes peeled for consumer lectures coming this Spring/Summer!

Claire Kapakjin

ACRM Distinguished Member Award

Dr. Claire Z. Kalpakjian was the recipient of the 2013 ACRM Distinguished Member Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM). This award was established in 1988 to honor those who have significantly contributed to the development and functioning of ACRM, demonstrated evidence of leadership skills, organizational abilities, and public service. The award was presenting at the 90th ACRM Annual Conference on Friday, November 15, 2013 at the Henry B. Betts Awards Gala.



Congrats to, Tom Hoatlin, SCI Advisory Council Member!

After a successful 20-year career as the VP of Development at the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, Tom Hoatlin said goodbye to his colleagues and friends in September to pursue other opportunities.  After taking a much needed hiatus, Tom landed at Advanced Home Care based out of Troy, MI as the Peer and Family Support Manager.  Advanced is a full-service home health care agency that specializes in traumatic brain, spinal cord, and other catastrophic injuries. 

Tom joins a qualified team of rehabilitation professionals to assist in improving the quality of life of Advanced Home Care clients.  He will be mentoring clients and their family members and will help them navigate the many facets of life with a disability.  "I am really impressed with the depth of expertise at Advanced and their philosophy of maximizing the independence of their clients by setting and achieving goals together. This is how I spent my career at the AACIL, so it was a perfect fit," Tom said.

In addition,  Tom kept his part time position at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation as the Midwest Regional Coordinator of their Peer and Family Support Program, a national peer to peer mentoring program. He trains and deploys peer mentors living with paralysis as well as their family members and care givers. Tom remains a part of the University of Michigan SCIMS family as the Chair of the Advisory Council.  He also consults with research faculty and staff by bringing a unique perspective of living with a SCI to the team.

Tom can be reached by email at:

The ReWalkTM exoskeleton is now available at The University of Michigan MedRehab-Briarwood!

The ReWalkTM exoskeleton allows an ambulation and rehabilitation alternative to wheelchair users, enabling people with lower limb disabilities, such as paraplegia, to stand, to walk, and to climb stairs.  The training program is an eight to twelve week program that includes sessions three times per week. In addition to focusing on gait, the goals of therapy during ReWalkTM training focus on improving dynamic standing balance and reaching, improving bowel and bladder function, and improving blood pressure control.  A screening evaluation is required in order to qualify for a ReWalkTM trial. If you are interested in pursuing ReWalkTM  training, please contact MedRehab-Briarwood at (734) 998-7888.

2014 Best Doctors in America List

As further proof of the University of Michigan Health System’s reputation for outstanding patient care, nearly 500 of U-M’s physicians have been named by their peers to the 2014 Best Doctors in America List. Two of those physicians being UM SCIMS physicians, Dr. Anthony Chiodo and Dr. Gianna Rodriguez.  The new national list includes 493 U-M physicians – - and places them among the best 5 percent of doctors in their specialties. UMHS has more physicians recognized than any other health system in Michigan. The list is compiled every year by Boston-based Best Doctors, Inc., and based on an in-depth survey, of more than 53,000 U.S. physicians in 40 specialties and more than 400 subspecialties of medicine. For the complete list of UM physicians that made the list click here.

"STEM CELL UNIVERSE" with Stephen Hawking

Produced by Morgan Freeman and Revelations Entertainment
Now playing on the Science Channel

The use of embryonic stem cells has ignited fierce debate across the spiritual and political spectrum. But what if we could create manmade stem cells - or find super cells in adults that could forever replace embryonic cells and remove the controversy? Today, we are on the brink of a new era - an age where we may be able to cure our bodies of any illness. Stephen Hawking takes us on a fascinating journey exploring what these wondrous and baffling mechanisms are capable of. He is joined by the scientists who are on the front lines of discovery in this field including Dr. Doris Taylor who is customizing a donor's heart with the recipient's stem cells - her goal is to revolutionize heart transplants, Dr. Paul Lu and Dr. Mark Tuszynski may have created a breakthrough that could cure paralysis, and Dr. Vincent Giampapa who believes that stem cells can be used to stem the tide of aging and create a fountain of youth.

The Dynamics of Pain Acceptance, Well-Being, and Functioning in SCI

Great news for our department with more fuel to our research engine. Congratulations to Dr. Kratz and Co-Investigator Kalpakjian with recent notice of award from the Craig H Nielsen Foundation! The title of the grant is: The Dynamics of Pain Acceptance, Well-Being, and Functioning in SCI. This is a 2-year $300K award that uses ecological momentary assessments and daily diaries to study the role of pain acceptance (a type of pain coping) in functional outcomes (e.g., physical activity, social participation) and well-being (e.g. positive mood) in persons with chronic pain and spinal cord injury. 

Bender Virtual Career Fair: Employment for People with Disabilities

Virtual Career Fair Date: March 20, 2014
Students, Post-docs, and Alumni are invited to attend the Virtual Career Fair, a unique virtual event that helps job seekers meet
employers in a time efficient, virtual way.
Click HERE to review the Virtual Job Fair Tutorial.

Why Participate?

Register before Feb. 21st at



Congratulations to Dr. Michelle Meade, Seth Warschausky, PhD, ABRP, Charles Merbitz, PhD, Edmund Durfee, Ph.D., Mark W. Newman, Ph.D. and Mark Ackerman, Ph.D., and Karen B. Farris, Ph.D. on their multidisciplinary grant award. The Technology Increasing Knowledge: Technology Optimizing Choice Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center (TIKTOC RERC) is an interdisciplinary collaboration of clinicians and researchers from the School of Medicine, the College of Engineering, the College of Pharmacy, and the School of Information within the University of Michigan. The over-arching aim of the TIKTOC-RERC is to develop and evaluate innovative Rehabilitation Strategies, Techniques and Interventions that can be incorporated into healthcare practice and the lives of individuals with disabilities in order to enhance health, participation, and employment outcomes.

Adolescents and young adults face many challenges when transitioning from childhood to adulthood. For those with disabilities, these challenges can be magnified and too often result in adversity, including an increase in health problems, social isolation, and continued financial dependence. With regard to managing their health and disability, adolescents are attempting to make the transition from parental management of health to self-management and independence. Making this transition can be challenging both because they lack knowledge and skills to anticipate and avoid secondary health complications, and because they may have impairments in cognition, including executive dysfunction, that may also make it difficult to complete the tasks required of them. Technology offers new opportunities to develop and implement strategies and interventions to address both of these kinds of challenges by supporting and reinforcing healthful behaviors.

Claire Z. Kalpakjian, PhD, MS and colleagues Robin Hanks, PhD and Lisa Rapport, PhD at Wayne State University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan were awarded a 3 year Field Initiated Grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, US Department of Education, to study menopause in women with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. The project, entitled “The Menopause Transition in Women with Traumatic Brain Injury”, will research the experience of menopause symptoms (vasomotor, somatic, psychological and cognitive) in women with TBI and the influence of injury, demographic and socio-economic factors. This objective research rests on the premise that due to the direct and indirect effects of TBI on health and functioning, the experience of symptoms with the menopause transition will be exacerbated compared to their peers without TBI. This work will result in five deliverables that will advance and support women’s health research in rehabilitation, not only for women with TBI, but with other disabilities resulting from illness or injury.

UM SCIMS currently has multiple studies researching topics related to bowel and bladder management. We are currently recruiting individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) to participate in a research project designed to enhance their skills in managing their bowel and bladder health.

You may be eligible to participate if you:

Are at least 18 years old

Have a chronic traumatic spinal cord injury Have been diagnosed with a neurogenic bladder and / or bowel Speak English as your first language Live in the community Are willing to commit to participation over a 12 month period

If you are interested in learning more, please contact the project’s Research Associate, Rachel Hartwig, at: (734) 763-0971

The Comprehensive Wound Care Clinic at the University of Michigan is a multidisciplinary hub for patients who have outpatient wound management and treatment needs. By bringing together specialist providers from all aspects of wound care into one location, you can conveniently receive the best therapy options for wound healing.

PM&R researchers speak at American Spinal Injury Association Conference in Chicago

Denise Tate, PhD, ABPP, Associate Chair for Research; David Tulsky, PhD, Departmental Director of Research; and Martin Forchheimer, MPP, all spoke at the Annual Conference of the American Spinal Injury Association, or ASIA. Dr. Tate’s talk was entitled, - Placebo Response With and Without Placebo: Tales of a Depression Trial for Persons with SCI/D. It was based on a clinical trial conducted by the SCI Model Systems during the 2006-2011 grant cycle. Dr. Tulsky’s presentation, entitled - Validation of the SCI-QOL and SCI-FI Measurement Systems for Persons with SCI, was based work conducted both through the SCI Model Systems grant and an NIH R01 grant which he has, both of which have developed and validated new measures of quality of life and functioning in SCI. Mr. Forchheimer gave two talks, one entitled - Subject Retention in a Clinical Trial of an Antidepressant for Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depressive Symptoms in People with SCI was based on the same trial that Dr. Tate spoke about. His second talk, - The International SCI Data Sets for Bowel and Bladder: Development of Interview Forms, was based on the development of an instrument that was done as part of the current SCI Model Systems grant. All four presentations were well-received.

Participate: Survey on UTIs in SCI

The NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Secondary Conditions in the Rehabilitation of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital is conducting a mini-survey on urinary tract infections (UTI) in people with SCI. UTI is the most common cause of outpatient infection and rehospitalization in people with SCI. This quick survey collects experiential data on frequency, symptoms, and treatment of UTI in people with SCI. The results will be used to understand the information needs of the SCI community and develop related materials.  

Congratualtions are in order!

Each year, The University of Michigan Medical School recognizes exceptionalDrs Tate and Woolliscroft accomplishments by faculty and staff in the areas of teaching, research, clinical care, community service and administration. These individuals have contributed their ideas and creativity; they are actively participating in the implementation of our plans; and they’re open to new ideas, tolerant of risk, and willing to change. University of Michigan Medical School 2013 Faculty Award for Clinical and Health Services Research was given to Denise G. Tate, Ph.D., principal investigator at U-M Spinal Cord Injury Model System. Watch video now.


Incidence, Etiology and Treatment Approaches

Dr. Julia Greve, Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program in the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil visited the University of Michigan in September of this year and presented on the topic of SCI in Sao Paulo City, Brazil: Incidence, Etiology and Treatment Approaches. The city has one of the highest rates of motorcycle accidents (44.5%) in the world. Dr. Greve and Tate and colleagues at both medical schools are collaborating on a USP-UM funded a  pilot initiative on driving assessment of elderly persons with and without disabilities. Researchers from Emergency Medicine, UMtri, School of Public Health and Psychiatry have joined PM&R researchers  and Brazilian researchers on this joint venture. An educational symposium is being panned in Sao Paulo next year.

Preventing Injury: From Research to Practice to People

The Midwest Injury Prevention Alliance, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Michigan Injury Center joined forces to present a special fall injury conference. The two-day event featured national and regional experts in injury prevention and translation. SCIMS researchers, Martin Forchheimer, MPP and Denise G Tate, PhD, examined the factors that explain the dynamics of emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations among people with chronic spinal cord injuries (SCI) with data collected as part of a pilot study funded by the U-M Injury Center. To learn more, view photos from the event, review other research entries and to listen to keynote and plenary addresses please visit their website and view our poster .

Spinal Cord Support Group at MedRehab – Life goes on and so do we

Join the Spinal Cord Support Group for education and socialization with a relaxed, mutually supportive group of people who are living with spinal cord impairments.

The group meets at MedRehab over the lunch hour on the last Tuesday of each month. Participants have so far included people with spinal cord injuries, M.S., transverse myelitis, or spinal stenosis. Discussions have addressed adapting and continuing important activities, hiring and training caregivers, and communicating with healthcare providers.

The group is facilitated by Darlene Klien, case Manager and family counselor; and rehab psychologist Nancy Merbitz.

For more information, call Darlene at 734-998-8096. MedRehab is located at 355 Briarwood Circle, Building #4.