Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowship


Program Director: Amanda Harrington, MD

Current Fellow: Frank Distel, MD

ACGME #3453113017

Fellows are trained at UPMC Mercy, a level 1 trauma center and home to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute. Fellows also rotate through UPMC Presbyterian and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The 1-year curriculum includes training in urology, inpatient SCI rehabilitation, consults and acute care, pulmonary medicine, outpatient SCI rehabilitation, and research. Fellows also participate in a continuity clinic. Rotations in outpatient evaluation will also take place at the Center for Assistive Technology, a joint program between the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.

Value is added to the fellowship by the department's designation as an SCI Model System funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The prestigious model system designation is awarded only to programs that can demonstrate excellence in treatment and research. The UPMC SCIM program offers the fellow a unique opportunity for research and enhanced data collection and information exchange among model centers.

The fellowship provides excellent exposure to all phases of SCI patient care including:

  • Acute care at UPMC Presbyterian
  • Inpatient rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute, UPMC Mercy
  • Outpatient continuity clinics at UPMC Mercy
  • Consultations at the UPMC Center for Assistive Technology (CAT), a joint program between UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh
  • Spasticity management techniques including intrathecal baclofen pumps and neurotoxin injections
  • Adult and pediatric outpatient clinics treating neurologic and medical conditions associated with SCI


Model Rotation Schedule
Inpatient SCI
UPMC Rehab Institute
Acute Care/Consults
UPMC Rehab Institute
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Presbyterian
Pulmonary Management
UPMC Presbyterian
Outpatient Evaluation
UPMC Rehab Institute
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
UPMC Presbyterian


UPMC is a leading hospital system in Pennsylvania and as such provides the fellow exposure to all levels of care in spinal cord injury medicine.

Rotations in the acute care/trauma setting take place in UPMC adult and pediatric care centers. The fellow will engage in consults on patients with new SCI as well as readmission of SCI patients with new problems, patients with multiple sclerosis, or patients with spine or spinal cord dysfunction of another etiology.

The fellow completes five months of inpatient rehabilitation training in our 20-bed SCI unit. The fellow helps to lead the interdisciplinary team to maximize patient recovery and independence.

Specialty training in neurogenic bladder, urodynamic testing, and pulmonary management of patients with SCI is also provided.


During the outpatient rotation the fellow participates in a multitude of clinics with faculty from various departments within UPMC. Experiences include clinics for wheelchair and seating, spasticity, pain, orthopaedic spine, general spinal cord injury, and would care. Approximately 15% of the fellow's outpatient clinic rotation is spent in pediatric clinics.

Fellows participate in specialty outpatient clinics and programs and receive training treating conditions including:

  • Botulinum toxin injections
  • Baclofen pump management
  • Adult and pediatric spina bifida
  • Assistive technology


Fellows will identify a research mentorship team at the start of their training. Fellows may receive financial support to promote research activities. Fellows are allotted ½ day per week protected time to pursue their research interests. By the end of their training the fellow is expected to submit at least 1 abstract to a national meeting and participate in the writing of a manuscript for a peer-reviewed publication.


Download the program brochure for more information.