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A Look Inside the Personalized Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Care at Atlanta's Shepherd Center

By Courtney Clark

Atlanta is home to Shepherd Center, a private, not-for-profit hospital that specializes in the medical treatment, research and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord and brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded more than 40 years ago, the hospital has been ranked among the top ten rehabilitation hospitals in the nation.

After sustaining a spinal cord injury in 1973, James Shepherd encountered a frustrating lack of rehabilitation options in the Atlanta area. With the help of friends and medical colleagues, Shepherd and his family opened Shepherd Center two years later as a six-bed unit. Over the years, demand increased exponentially. Today, the facility has 152 beds and admits more than 900 inpatients annually, excluding the outpatient programs and day patient programs.

Shepherd Center is known for its world-renowned research activities. Researchers work to "develop, refine and evaluate new treatments, drugs, surgical techniques, diagnostic tools and various therapy interventions." The Center collaborates with other hospitals, research centers, and schools around the world. Research includes robotic exoskeleton clinical trials, spinal cord and brain injury research, and more.

Rehabilitation services include extensive programs to ensure patients are cared for thoroughly and for the long-term. Director of Public Relations and Digital Marketing Jane M. Sanders explains, "These programs include therapeutic recreation, community outings, pastoral care, extensive family training" and much more. The Center even offers post-discharge case management for patients struggling to transition back into the community.

The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program is another high-quality care program. Treating more than 400 patients annually, the staff are experienced and specialized to treat spinal cord injuries. Sanders adds that the Center "is one of fourteen facilities in the US that is designated as a Spinal Cord Injury Model System." Programs are condition- and age-specific to ensure that each patient receives the care he or she needs.

Accredited by the Join Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, Shepherd Center brings decades of experience to those who have sustained spinal cord or brain injuries. The facility ensures lifetime care is available for those who are struggling with specialized injuries needing personalized care. The Center never stops striving towards its mission: to, as the website explains, rebuild lives "with hope, independence and dignity" while advocating for "full inclusion in all aspects of community life."

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About The Author

Courtney Clark graduated from Flagler College with a BA in English and Creative...

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