UPMC Physician Resources

Rehabilitation Our Program

UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

UPMC is home to one of the country's largest rehabilitation networks. Our physicians recognize the importance of a continuum of rehabilitative care and because of this, our patients are offered services at more than 70 inpatient, outpatient, and long-term care facilities.

At the hub of this network is the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, offering specialized, accredited services for:

  • stroke
  • amputation
  • complex orthopaedic and traumatic injuries
  • brain injury
    • The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute is a Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (TBIMS), which reflects their leadership in TBI-related care and research.  
  • spinal cord injury
    • The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute is one of only 14 Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) in the country, which reflects their leadership in SCI-related care and research.

And, because the Institute is a top recipient of research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), patients have access to cutting-edge treatments and technology and opportunities to participate in clinical trials. Together, our physicians work not only to shape the rehabilitative care for our patients, but for patients around the country.

Latest Robotic Devices

UPMC is a leader in rehabilitation robotic devices, often used as a testing ground by manufacturers to develop and patent leading devices, including:

  • Armeo: The Armeo partially compensates for the weight of a patient's arm, allowing them to use their remaining strength to perform exercises while playing various computer games. The Institute uses Armeo's original device, the Armeo®Spring, and was the first facility in the U.S. to receive the new Armeo®Boom, a more cost-effective version being tested at the Institute's outpatient clinics.
  • GameCycle®: Invented at the University of Pittsburgh, the GameCycle combines a stationary hand cycle with a commercial video game, allowing patients to get exercise while playing any Nintendo GameCube® game.
  • Lokomat®: With the assistance of robotic leg supports, the Lokomat provides treadmill training to patients who are partially paralyzed or have limited use of one or both legs.
  • Nintendo Wii®: In an inpatient therapy setting, the Wii is used both as a leisure-time activity and as part of patients' individual rehabilitation routines.

Cutting-edge Rehabilitative Treatment

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers numerous treatment options, including:

  • Acupuncture for acute and chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea from chemotherapy or pregnancy, tendonitis, and musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Electrodiagnostic medicine - electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) to help identify sources of muscle weakness, pain, or numbness.
  • Spasticity treatments - both oral and non-oral preparations.
  • Two types of regenerative injection therapy (RIT) - prolotherapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) - to treat chronic pain around cartilage, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
  • Therapeutic massage.

Clinical Research

Our research has resulted in advancements in diagnostic mechanisms, treatments, and rehabilitation therapies and increased independence for patients.

Scientific initiatives have led to the development of new therapies, more effective rehabilitation technology, and greater understanding of physical and cognitive impairments.

Our physicians' and researchers' work include the following areas:

  • assistive technology
  • neuroimaging
  • neuroprosthetics
  • spinal cord injury and spinal cord medicine
  • sports medicine and adaptive sports
  • traumatic brain injury

Featured Rehabilitation Program: GameCycle®

It's common for patients to lose motivation during rehabilitation, so we decided to make it more fun. Our researchers created the GameCycle®- part exercise machine, part video game - to keep patients interested and motivated while improving their physical strength and motor skills.

How it works:

  • Using both hands, patients can cycle forward or backward in a rowing motion to move the game character on the GameCycle monitor.
  • Speed and direction are controlled by how fast and in what direction patients "row."
  • Turns are made by tilting the hand cycle left and right.
  • Adjustable resistance, handgrips, and height settings allow patients to customize their workouts according to their physical abilities.

How it helps:

The GameCycle provides cardiovascular and balance exercise, as well as flexibility and strength training for patients who've had a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord injury. It is especially effective for those patients with limited use of one or both legs.