SCI Medicine Fellowship Overview

Rotation Descriptions
Educational Opportunities

The spinal cord injury medicine physician uses medical and rehabilitation interventions to improve the daily functioning and quality of life of patients who have both traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injuries. Other common diagnoses treated include multiple sclerosis, myelopathy, and acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

Model Rotation Schedule
Rotation Site
 Inpatient SCI
UPMC Rehab Institute at UPMC Mercy
    UPMC Rehab Institute at UPMC Mercy
Acute Care/Consults 2 Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
    UPMC Presbyterian
Urology 1 UPMC Presbyterian
Pulmonary Mgt. 1 UPMC Presbyterian
    UPMC Rehab Institute at UPMC Mercy
Outpatient Evaluation 3 Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
    UPMC Presbyterian

Rotation Descriptions

SCI Inpatient Rotation: The SCI fellow spends a total of 5 months on inpatient SCI rehabilitation. During the first three months of the SCI Medicine fellowship, the fellow has an opportunity to work with 2-3 three different faculty members, all fellowship-trained in SCI Medicine, thus giving the fellow a unique exposure to different theories and methods of SCI management. The initial three months of the SCI Medicine fellowship are spent on the inpatient rehabilitation unit working with patients with both traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injury and disease. Through the variety of clinical encounters in the inpatient setting, the fellow is able to learn about each component of SCI rehabilitation. The SCI fellow participates in two additional months of inpatient SCI rehabilitation at the end of fellowship. During these last two months, the skills and knowledge acquired during fellowship allow increased independence in clinical and leadership roles.

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SCI Consults/Acute Care: The fellow spends two months in the acute care/trauma setting. The majority of their time on this rotation is spent doing consults on patients with new SCI. Additional consults may be on patients with old SCI readmitted to the acute setting with new problems, patients with multiple sclerosis, or patients with spine or spinal cord dysfunction of another etiology. In addition to making recommendations for medical and rehabilitation management, the fellow spends a great deal of time educating patients and families about spinal cord injury. In the acute setting, the fellow also has the opportunity to observe spine cases in the operating room with both neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons in order to learn about the surgical management of SCI. In addition, the fellow may join neuroradiology for practice reading spine films.

Urology: The SCI Medicine fellow spends a month in Urology clinic working with patients with neurogenic bladder and observing urodynamics testing and other pertinent procedures. They may join the urology team in the OR to observe cases relevant to SCI patients.

Pulmonary: Specialty exposure to the pulmonary management of patients with SCI, including those on ventilators, occurs during a one month experience. Ventilator management is taught at our long-term-acute care hospital and in our ICU settings.

SCI Outpatient Evaluation: The SCI Medicine fellow spends three months in an outpatient clinic rotation. During this rotation the fellow participates in a multitude of outpatient clinics with faculty from various departments within UPMC. Experiences include clinics for wheelchair and seating, spasticity, pain, Orthopedic spine, general spinal cord injury, and wound care. Approximately 15% of the fellow’s outpatient clinic rotation is spent in pediatric clinics.

Descriptions of Outpatient Programs and Clinics: to top of page
Mercy Outpatient Clinic:
Spasticity management, including botulinum toxin injections and baclofen pump management
Spinal Cord Injury Continuity Clinic
Comprehensive annual genitourinary clinic managed by PM&R

Spina Bifida Clinic:
Adult and Pediatric clinics

The Center for Assistive Technology (CAT):
A joint program between University of Pittsburgh and UPMC

Educational Opportunities and Activities

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Fellows are exposed to a wide variety of educational opportunities such as educating residents and medical students and presenting research at regional conferences. Fellows are trained in teaching and feedback techniques and given ample opportunities to practice these skills.

As a learner, the educational experience for the fellow includes:
Journal club
Panther Rehab Grand Rounds (PM&R)
Participation in quality improvement initiatives and patient safety activities

Research opportunities are abundant. At the beginning of training, fellows identify a research mentorship team. All PM&R fellows in the department meet quarterly to participate in research didactics geared toward the fellow level of training. SCIM fellows receive financial support to promote research activities. Fellows are allotted ½ day per week protected time to pursue their research interests. By the end of the training, the fellow is expected to submit at least one abstract to a national meeting and participate in the writing of a manuscript for a peer-reviewed publication.

for additional information contact:
Sara Brown
GME Sr Department Manager

SCI Fellowship Home

Fellowship Faculty

Program Overview

Value is added to the fellowship by the department’s designation as an SCI Model System funded by the National Institute on Disabilit, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

The University of Pittsburgh Model Center for Spinal Cord Injury (UPMC-SCIM)

program at UPMC is one of 14 designated sites in the country, and only 7 other SCI Model system institutions share the distinction of an accredited spinal cord injury medicine fellowship.

The prestigious Model system designation is awarded only to programs that can demonstrate excellence in treatment and research. The UPMC SCIM program offers the fellow a unique opportunity for research and enhanced data collection and information exchange among the model centers.

Amanda Harrington, MD
Spinal Cord Medicine Fellowship Director