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Spaulding Celebrates 40 Years of Remarkable Recoveries

  • Published: 2010-09-17 : Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • Synopsis: Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital has grown into one of the top rehabilitation facilities in the world as a leader in teaching research and care.

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First planned in 1967 by Josiah Spaulding and a group of other civic leaders to address the critical rehabilitation need created by changes to Medicare law, the current Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, then Massachusetts Rehabilitation Hospital opened its doors on September 16, 1970.

Forty years later, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital has grown into one of the top rehabilitation facilities in the world as a leader in teaching, research, and care in the rehabilitative field.

"The story of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is truly made up of the thousands upon thousands of patients, families and staff who have achieved personal victories far beyond what they thought might be possible. While the technology and techniques used in those initial years have changed, the key pillars first established 40 years ago of dedication to patient care, a deep commitment to education and innovation and impassioned advocacy for the communities we serve still guides Spaulding today" said David Storto, President, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

The hospital initially operated programs in stroke, arthritis, orthopaedics, amputations and traumatic brain injury. Today not only is the understanding of these disease models and conditions far greater but Spaulding boasts centers of excellence in stroke, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury(TBI) with regionally recognized programs in burn, amputee and musculoskeletal rehab. In addition, Spaulding has one of the region's largest pediatric rehabilitation programs and twenty three outpatient rehabilitation facilities located throughout Eastern Massachusetts.

The backbone of Spaulding's programs is based on a physician led team-orientated approach pioneered in the 70's at facilities such as Spaulding. Today multi-disciplinary teams with physical, occupational, and speech language therapists, nursing, social workers, case managers and physicians provide a comprehensive care approach for patients and families.

Home to the Harvard Medical School's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding has been the only rehabilitation hospital since 1995 in New England ranked as a best hospital by US News & World Reports, with a #4 ranking this year, its highest ever. Spaulding also serves as the official rehabilitation hospital of the New England Patriots and Revolution.

Spaulding has evolved into an important center of research with over 100 active studies in areas such as Brain Injury, Parkinson's disease, Cerebral Palsy, and bone density interventions for persons with paralysis among many others. In recent years, Spaulding's clinical and research under the leadership of Vice President of Medicine Dr. Ross Zafonte, have achieved new levels of success as the first rehabilitation hospital in the country with the ground breaking Pediatric Lokomat, its participation as the only rehab hospital nationally in a first of its kind Dept. of Defense study into PTSD and TBI and its status as the brain injury clinical site for the Red Sox Foundation/Mass General Home Base Program.

"In so many ways we are just starting to scratch the surface of our understanding of the biology of recovery. The work done at Spaulding by our many talented colleagues over the past 40 years has increased our baseline knowledge of how the body heals exponentially. I'm very proud of where we have been but even more enthusiastic about what lies ahead for Spaulding with our novel approaches and innovative research," Dr. Ross Zafonte, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Spaulding and Chair of the Harvard Department of PM&R.

The world has radically changed since 1970 for persons with disabilities and those in need of rehabilitation care. Spaulding has played a major role regionally and nationally as a leader in the field and advocate for the disability community. Even today among a rapidly changing healthcare landscape the need for utilization of rehabilitation medicine will only increase as health science enables people to survive trauma and live longer. No matter the changes the next 40 years holds for Spaulding, the path blazed in its first forty years will guide its caregivers as they enable even more remarkable recoveries.

About Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital - A member of Partners HealthCare, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is the flag ship facility of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, which includes the Spaulding main campus, a 196-bed facility, located in Boston, MA, Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands, Shaughnessy-Kaplan Rehabilitation Hospital three skilled nursing facilities: North End Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Boston Center for Rehabilitation and Sub-Acute Care, and the Clark House, as well as twenty three outpatient sites throughout the Greater Boston area. Spaulding is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School as well as the official rehabilitation hospital of the New England Patriots. Spaulding is the only rehabilitation hospital in New England continually ranked since 1995 by U.S. News and World Report in its Best Hospitals survey. For more information, please visit

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