The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has awarded the Sister Kenny Institute a five million dollar federal grant for five years. The money will allow the institute to expand its various existing rehabilitation programmes via telemedicine consultations in the clinics and hospitals of greater Minnesota, and even in the patients' homes. No matter where they live, people with a disability, as well as their caretakers or family will benefit from the access to the most advanced rehabilitation methods. The grant has been offered to Sister Kenny Institute in partnership with the Catholic University of America and the National Rehabilitation Hospital, that both are situated in Washington D.C.
Since half a century, Sister Kenny Institute constitutes one of the most renewing, leading edge and successful rehabilitation centres within the United States. The institute is hosted at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and forms part of Allina Health System, an integrated not for profit health care system, headquartered in the same town. Allina has been founded in 1994 out of a merging operation between the HealthSpan health care delivery system and the health plan organization Medica. Allina's goal consists in the continuous improvement of community health in Minnesota, Wisconsin as well as eastern North and South Dakota, with the support of its diverse health plans, member doctors and hospitals.
Allina's Sister Kenny Institute displays a great expertise in spinal cord and brain injuries; problems caused by stroke; orthopaedic, musculo-skeletal and neuromuscular defects; chronic pain; and injuries related with sports or work. The rehabilitation programmes are applied for inpatient as well as outpatient services. The physical therapists prepare people suffering from disability to re-enter normal life as soon as possible. Rehabilitation experts assist patients while they are practising to manoeuvre a wheelchair on a sidewalk or to climb the stairs on a bus. Virtual reality programmes are designed to learn patients how to drive a car again.
The telemedicine grant will be used for pilot telemedicine consultations in Cambridge and New Ulm, which constitute two locations of the Allina Health System/Rural Health Alliance Telemedicine Network. The programmes will enable Sister Kenny's rehabilitation experts to remotely monitor and evaluate the patient's progress. Individuals with disabilities will be encouraged and coached to increase skill acquisition. The physicians equally will offer useful counseling towards the patient's family with regard to providing the proper care to the disabled person. Part of the grant will be reserved for the funding of technology research and development in order to implement rehabilitation programmes, in a later stage, in the very home of the patient via high speed cable lines and the Internet.