Group therapy utilization in inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation

Jeanne M. Zanca, Marcel P. Dijkers, Ching Hui Hsieh, Allen W. Heinemann, Susan D. Horn, Randall J. Smout, Deborah Backus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe group therapy utilization in spinal cord injury (SCI) inpatient rehabilitation. Design: Prospective observational study. Setting: Six inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Participants: Patients (N=1376) receiving initial rehabilitation after traumatic SCI. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measure: Time spent in group versus individual therapy for physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), therapeutic recreation (TR), and psychology (PSY) therapies. Results: The majority (98%) of patients participated in at least 1 group therapy session, with 83%, 81%, 80%, and 54% of patients receiving group PT, OT, TR, and PSY, respectively. On average, 24% of treatment sessions and 27% of treatment time was provided in group sessions, with TR providing the greatest percent of its time in groups. Group therapy time and time spent in specific activities varied among patient subgroups with different injury characteristics. Group therapy time also varied widely among centers (range, 1.2-6.6h/wk). Across all injury subgroups, individual and group therapy hours per week were negatively correlated for OT and positively correlated for TR. Patient characteristics, clinician experience, and treatment center predicted 32% of variance in group hours per week. PT and OT strengthening/endurance interventions and TR outings were the most common group activities overall. Conclusions: While the majority of inpatient SCI rehabilitation consists of individual sessions, most patients participate in group therapy, which contributes significantly to total therapy time. Patterns of group utilization fit with functional expectations and clinical goals. A trade-off between group and individual therapy may occur in some disciplines. Utilization of group therapy varies widely among centers, and further study is needed to identify optimal patterns of group therapy utilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S145-S153
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number4 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Health services
  • Health services research
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy specialty
  • Psychology
  • Recreation therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries


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