Program Overview

The Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Program of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine is a nationally recognized and core component of our Department. The SCI Program is the only such service in New York City accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and it has been designated by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) as a "Model System of Care" for spinal cord injuries continuously since 1990. The Model System of Care at Mount Sinai (known as "MS-SCI-MS") is the only one of its kind in New York State and one of only 14 in the nation.

Spinal Cord Injury Medicine is a medical subspecialty with board certification that incorporates all knowledge required to diagnose and treat persons with traumatic and non-traumatic SCI. Completion of a one-year fellowship program is a requirement for admission to the subspecialty examination that leads to certification. Admission to a fellowship requires satisfactory completion of a residency training program in physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, internal medicine or psychiatry. The training program in SCI Medicine at Mount Sinai has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education since July, 2000. To date, the program has graduated seven fellows.

Fellows receive training by rotating through inpatient and outpatient programs at The Mount Sinai Hospital and affiliated institutions, including the James Peters VA Medical Center, Elmhurst Hospital Center,and The Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine. At each facility, the fellow works with experienced clinical staff including physiatrists, urologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, and many rehabilitation professionals. The fellow has a continuity outpatient experience, building a panel of outpatients throughout the year for whom they serve as the primary medical contact. Additionally, the fellow is expected to complete a scholarly project related to SCI. Practical experience, didactic training and scholarly work prepare the fellow to sit for the subspecialty examination in SCI Medicine, which is administered annually in the fall by The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Fellows in SCI Medicine benefit from access to the patient populations at diverse institutions. The Mount Sinai Hospital is a 1,170 bed tertiary care hospital fully accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mount Sinai has been chaired since 1986 by Kristjan T. Ragnarsson, one of the world's leaders in SCI Medicine. The Rehabilitation Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital houses an 87 bed acute inpatient facility with a 25 bed inpatient SCI Unit that provides acute rehabilitation services to persons with SCI, including those with ventilator dependent tetraplegia. The SCI Unit is staffed by physiatrists with substantial expertise in SCI Medicine: Thomas Bryce, Jessica Bloomgarden, and Avniel Klein. In addition to acute inpatient SCI rehabilitation, the Mount Sinai experience will also include inpatient consults, continuity clinic, neuro-urology, and spasticity management. Other rotations thoughout the medical center may be arranged based on the fellow's interest.

The James Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center (JPVAMC) provides comprehensive care for veterans with SCI, both on an acute and chronic basis. The 80 bed SCI Unit is directed by Arthur Cytryn, MD. Dr. Cytryn is board certified in SCI Medicine. At the JPVAMC, fellows are exposed to inpatient SCI Medicine and additional specialty areas, including a wound care clinic and urologic testing. Fellows also participate in a home visit program for veterans with SCI who are living in the community. One of the fellowship's graduates, Dr. Dorothy Miller, joined the staff of the SCI Unit in 2007.

The Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine of New York University School of Medicine is the site of the fellows' experience in Pediatric SCI. This experience combines inpatient and outpatient pediatric SCI care, with additional clinics for children with spina bifida and spasticity. Pediatric rehabilitation services are directed by Joan Gold, MD, who has been in her position for nearly 20 years and is known for her outstanding teaching and her encyclopedic knowledge of pediatric rehabilitation. In addition, during the rotation, the fellows may participate in the adult clinics for multiple sclerosis and sexual dysfunction.

Elmhurst Hospital Center (EHC) is a 622 bed general hospital operated by the City of New York. EHC, which is managed and staffed by Mount Sinai Faculty, houses a level I trauma center that receives over 100,000 patients annually, including numerous persons with traumatic SCI. Fellows are regularly consulted when newly injured individuals are identified. Thus, at this site, fellows gain experience in the acute medical management of SCI. Additionally, fellows gain experience in neurologic evaluation, outcomes prognostication and the prevention of early medical complications. Fellows play a key role in facilitating the transfer of patients to the appropriate inpatient rehabilitation unit.

Graduates of the SCI Fellowship have gone onto significant positions in the field. Jaishree Capoor, MD, is board certified in SCI Medicine and Pediatric Rehabilitation, is a faculty member at Mount Sinai, and is clinically active in Pediatric SCI. Kristin Gustafsson, DO, the 2006 graduate of the program is a full-time faculty member engaged in SCI practice at Boston University School of Medicine. Dorothy Miller, MD, the 2007 graduate of the program, joined the SCI Unit at the Peters V.A. Hospital in 2007 as a full-time medical staff member in clinical SCI medicine.

The Fellowship Program in SCI Medicine at The Icahn School of Medicine is dedicated to the development of outstanding physicians who demonstrate excellence in the areas of knowledge acquisition and application, skill development, clinical judgment, team leadership and interpersonal communication.

Interested applicants should contact Jessica Bloomgarden, MD, Program Director at 212-241-6335 or email jessica.bloomgarden@mountsinai.org. The fellowship coordinator Jennifer Lozada can be reached at 212-659-9341 or email jennifer.lozada@mountsinai.org.