MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital

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MedStar National Rehabilitation Network
MedStar Health
Location 102 Irving Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20010, United States
Funding Not-for-profit
Hospital type Specialized
Beds 137
Founded 1986
Lists Hospitals in the United States

MedStar National Rehabilitation Network (MedStar NRH) is located in Washington, D.C., and specializes in treating persons with physical disabilities, including spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, arthritis, amputation, multiple sclerosis, post-polio syndrome, orthopedic, and other neurological conditions. National Rehabilitation Hospital was founded in 1986 by Edward A. Eckenhoff,[1] and is a member of the MedStar Health system, the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore region’s largest non-profit healthcare organization.[2]

MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital has grown from a single hospital into MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, which provides inpatient, outpatient, and day treatment programs. The network provides more than 350,000 ambulatory visits annually in addition to the hospital’s more than 2,200 inpatient admissions. Since its inception, MedStar NRH has admitted in excess of 35,000 inpatients and provided over 2 million outpatient visits.[3]


Edward A. Eckenhoff[edit]

Founded the hospital in 1986 and is currently the President Emeritus of MedStar NRH. Suffering a spinal cord injury in college, Edward A. Eckenhoff,[1] championed behind the construction of the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Eckenhoff was only 20 years old when he became a paraplegic and went on to impact thousands of lives through his actions.

On February 6, 1986, MedStar NRH opened its doors with 230 staff members and one patient. MedStar NRH soon grew to be one of the most well recognized hospitals in the country. It has hosted guests like Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Queen Sofia of Spain, Bob Dole, and Stevie Wonder.

Eckenhoff has also received numerous awards including "Washingtonian of the year" by Washingtonian magazine and was named “Alumnus of the Year” by Washington University School of Medicine. Eckenhoff played a major role in the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 with his visits to Capital Hill and work around the community. MedStar NRH strongly supported Eckenhoff's venture and was a vital part in improving the lives of the disabled. The current president is John Rockwood who adopted the role in October 2010.

Reputation and Accreditation[edit]


Physicians nationwide consistently rank MedStar NRH among “America’s Best Hospitals,” as reported by U.S. News & World Report. Since 1990, MedStar NRH has been consistently listed in the annual ranking as one of the nation’s best hospitals for physical rehabilitation.

Ranked #3 in Washington D.C. in 2012 overall, and #1 in DC for Rehabilitation.

Year Rank Score
2012 11 8.9
2011 13 9.1
2010 13 6.3
2009 12 6.8
2008 11 9.1
2007 9 10.9
2006 10 9.2
2005 15 10.9
2004 15 7.3
2003 13 11.2
2002 12 10.9
2001 13 8.6
2000 15 N/A
1999 18 N/A
1998 16 N/A
1997 20 N/A
1996 17 N/A
1995 19 N/A

In 2003, MedStar NRH achieved a high reputation score of 11.2.[4]

MedStar NRH is fully accredited by both the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations JCAHO,[5] and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities CARF, earning an impressive fourteen CARF commendations in the 2007 accreditation survey. CARF is a private, not-for-profit organization that promotes quality rehabilitation services. Their standards are reviewed annually and new ones are developed to keep pace with changing conditions and current consumer needs. NRH has received a three-year accreditation from CARF, and its Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke and Brain Injury programs are the regions only CARF accredited specialty programs.[6]

Types of Specialty Care: Inpatient, Outpatient, and Day Treatment[edit]

MedStar NRH’s board-certified physicians, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and other clinicians work in teams to meet the needs of patients with a wide range of neurological, and orthopedic conditions. MedStar NRH provides highly specialized acute inpatient rehabilitative care at its Washington, D.C., location on a campus adjacent to its MedStar Health sister hospital, the MedStar Washington Hospital Center. NRH works in partnership not only with the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, but also with a number of other leading acute care facilities throughout the region. Acute rehab begins at onset of injury and illness, and continues after hospitalization through the NRH Rehabilitation Network – with over 30 outpatient sites located throughout the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland region.

(See for a list of outpatient locations.)

In addition, for those needing more intense therapy following hospitalization, MedStar NRH offers unique Day Treatment programs for stroke, brain and spinal cord injury, which provide continued comprehensive care to maximize potential for recovery.

Vocational Care[edit]

Meant for patients who have occurred a brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, amputation, and burns. This program has also been accredited for treating motion disorders, arthritis, chronic pain syndromes, cardiac disorders, and other neurologic conditions. There are both inpatient and outpatient services available with each staff member certified in rehabilitation counseling (CRC).

Spinal Cord Injury[edit]

More than 200 spinal cord injured patients come to MedStar NRH each year for treatment. Some injuries MedStar NRH encounters are Spinal Cord Disease, Spinal Stenosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Postoperative Spinal Surgery, and Guillain Barre Syndrome. Emphasis is on the prevention of primary and secondary conditions and on the patients’ participation. The Seating and Mobility Clinic offers evaluations for patients wheeled mobility needs based on functional strength, range of motion, postural alignment, and skin integrity. MedStar NRH was also one of the first hospitals in the country to use the Lokomat. This provides body weight support for gait training.

Brain Injury[edit]

Faculty provides care for thousands suffering from mild to traumatic brain injuries. The concussion clinic at Medstar NRH focuses primarily on this form of brain injury and is regarded as one of the best in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. 75 percent of all traumatic brain injuries that occur are concussions. Traumatic brain injuries contribute to a third of all deaths in the United States with over 1.5 million brain injuries occurring each year. During their stay, patients are also educated on precautions they can take to prevent a future incidence.


Treat inpatient and outpatient stroke victims. With over 800,000 stroke victims each year, MedStar NRH has developed one of the largest stroke programs in the region. Over 600 stroke patients are cared for each year at MedStar NRH with 96 percent being able to return home within 90 days. The stroke recovery program is aimed to offer stroke comprehensive inpatient, day treatment, and outpatient rehabilitation that are tailored to each patient’s needs and abilities.

Gala Victory Awards®[edit]

Created when the hospital opened in 1986, the Victory Awards honor individuals who have overcome physical adversity and inspired others. Awards have been given out to people from many different areas such as art, entertainment, sports, and politics. This event also raises money to advance treatments and the hospital.

Past Winners[edit]

2011 Edward A. Eckenhoff, Mickey Gilley, Robert David Hall, Marquita Lister, Kevin Pearce
2010 Cheryl Douglas, Tim Strachan
2008 Charlie Chiang, Ariel Cohen
2007 Sen. Timothy Johnson, Ryan Major
2006 Teri Garr, Michael Graves, Monica Greenberg, Geri Jewell, Bob Woodruff
2004 Stevie Wonder
2003 Kirk Douglas
2002 Ruby Garcia-Tolson
2001 Art Buchwald, Robert Guillaume, Rep. Jim Langevin, Heather Mills, Jerri Nielson M.D.
2000 Robert McQuay
1999 John Hockenberry, Dion Johnson
1998 Carl T. Rowan
1997 Jennifer Sheehy Keller
1996 Sen. Max Cleland, Gail Devers, Sam Donaldson, Amb. Flecha de Lima, Heather Whitestone
1993 Christopher Burke, Marilyn Hamilton, Sen. Robert Kerrey, Patrica Neal, Mike Utley, Ed Walker, Eita Yoshiro
1991 Jim Abbott, Billy Barty, Hon. Charles Bennett, Maj. Rhonda Cornum, Norm Crosby, Sandy Duncan, Gloria Estefan
1990 Patty Duke, I. King Jordan, Brian May, Jane Rosenbrock, Ben Vareen
1989 Bill Demby, Julio Iglesias, Sen. Daniel Inouye, Barbara Mandrell, Joni Eareckson Tada, Skip Wilkins
1988 Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marlee Matlin, Harold Russell, Robert Wieland
1987 James Brady, Ray Charles, Hon. Tony Coelho, Jose Feliciano, Gelsey Kirkland, Ann-Margret, Jonathan Young
1986 Sen. Bob Dole, Ann Jillian, Ted Kennedy, Jr., Teddy Pendergrass

25th Anniversary[edit]

In 2011, MedStar NRH celebrated their 25th anniversary with their annual Gala Victory Award’s in which they recognized several key contributors to the advancement of rehab.

MedStar NRH has been accredited by The Joint Commission and CARF as one of the most reliable rehabilitation hospitals in the country. They are the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. CARF Accredited Medstar NRH with Specialty Programs in Stroke Recovery, Spinal Cord Injury and Brain Injury.

Being a non-profit organization, the team at MedStar NRH uses the approach of care that puts the patient first.

Special Programs[edit]

CARF Accredited[edit]

MedStar NRH’s Spinal Cord Program is the area’s only CARF Accredited Specialty Program for Spinal Cord Injury and Disease.[7]

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): Promoting Health and Preventing Complications through Exercise is also funded by the NIDRR. The $4 million, 5-year grant allows MedStar NRH to further extend its research and training efforts on secondary conditions in people with SCI. The RRTC is a unique collaborative effort of national leaders in SCI-related research, clinical expertise, support and education organizations, independent living centers, and consumers with SCI.[8]

Recovery Program[edit]

The MedStar NRH Stroke Recovery Program is among the largest programs in the country and offers one of the most advanced programs of its kind in the region. MedStar NRH patients benefit from the exceptional skills and resources of the area’s only CARF Accredited Specialty Program for Strokes.[7]

The MedStar NRH Brain Injury Program takes an innovative, comprehensive approach to care using repetition to expand on small incremental gains in recovery—to achieve the best possible outcome. This focused and proven method of care attracts a variety of patients including politicians and military service members from across the U.S.

The orthopedic programs at MedStar NRH utilize the most technologically advanced diagnostic and therapeutic equipment to address such issues as arthritis, amputation, joint replacement, and a full range of other orthopedic injuries and conditions.

Throughout patients’ rehabilitative experience, MedStar NRH relies upon a number of innovative assistive technology devices that have been developed by MedStar NRH’s research team, and which have been quickly moved from laboratory to bedside for optimal recovery.

National Center for Children's Rehabilitation (NCCR)[edit]

The National Center for Children’s Rehabilitation (NCCR) at MedStar NRH addresses an unmet regional need and raises the bar for care of pediatric patients with neurological, orthopedic injuries, and other illnesses. The only center of its kind in the area, the NCCR is a joint service of MedStar NRH and Children's National Medical Center and offers an innovative approach to children's rehab in a state-of-the-art and secure unit.[9]

Research and Technology[edit]

Advanced rehabilitation technology such as the Zero/G gait training tool and Alter/G anti-gravity treadmill has earned MedStar NRH the reputation as one of the leading participants in research for rehabilitation technology.

Christoph Ruesch Research Center[edit]

The Christoph Ruesch Research Center at MedStar NRH is dedicated to implementing initiatives that probe new rehabilitative interventions to address the health and rehabilitative needs of person with disabilities, and to develop better ways to deliver and pay for these services.

There are four unique centers conducting both laboratory and clinical research: the Assistive Technology Research Center, the Center for Post-Acute Studies, the Neuroscience Research Center, and the Center for Applied Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research.

Dozens of studies are underway in the development of improved rehabilitative diagnosis and treatment methods, and technology aimed at improving long-term independence for persons with a variety of disabling conditions. Among these are a unique study to evaluate the value of activity-based rehab and FES, functional electrical stimulation, for spinal cord injury patients, a project to test the value of patient navigation to improve long-term outcomes for stroke and spinal cord patients, and a program to reduce secondary incidents among the capital region’s stroke patients.[10]

Four Laboratory and Research Centers[edit]

Assistive Technology & Research Center[edit]

Uncover new technology that increases the effectiveness of recovery. Also increases a patient’s ability to live independently with a disability.

Center for Post-Acute Innovation & Research[edit]

Aims to offer guidance on the quality and financing of post-acute rehab.

Neuroscience Research Center[edit]

Congress approves 6 million dollars for new neuroscience research center in 2000. This area deals with research related to clinical psychology, speech language therapy, health services, and rehabilitation engineering.

Center for Applied Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research[edit]

Research involving impairments, limitations, and recovery. The center focuses primarily on neurological and musculoskeletal factors.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°55′49.9″N 77°0′47.9″W / 38.930528°N 77.013306°W / 38.930528; -77.013306