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Work environment: Spinal Injuries Centre of Niguarda Hospital

Spinal Injuries Centre of Niguarda Hospital, opened on June 2002, is a treatment and rehabilitation center for people with spinal cord injuries or Spina Bifida.

It represents one of the first experiences in Italy of global approach to the problem of people with spinal injuries or Spina Bifida through treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration into society, family and work, according to new models developed in Europe.

For a person (child, young and adult) with severe disabilities a global rehabilitation means to reach the maximum autonomy possible, in order to achieve the best social rehabilitation.

This entails to work for:

– Reaching the maxim level of physical rehabilitation
– Reaching a good psychological balance
– Regaining one’s own individual and social identity

As the years passed by and thanks to developed skills, the Spinal Injuries Centre of Niguarda Hospital has become a reference centre and a medical centre of excellence at both regional and national levels. The number of extra-regional admissions equal to 30% of total amount support this view.

The Spinal Injuries Centre is a high specialised care model for care, rehabilitation and reintegration of people with spinal injuries right after the injurious event.

It is an organisational structure that can guarantee the unity and concurrence of treatment in terms of time and space, extended to relational, social and work context of the person. It is a unique organisational structure, where the rehabilitation is clinical and care at the same time. This is possible thanks to a rehabilitation programme managed by a professional and multidisciplinary team of the Spinal Injuries Centre.

These organisational features are in line with the Guidelines of Ministry of Health for Rehabilitation activities dated 7-5-1998 and 29- 4- 2004.

For these features, the Spinal Injuries Centre is a reference point not only for those with spinal injuries treated here, but also for those with old lesions and for children and teenagers with Spina Bifida from every part of Italy.

Here it is possible to do exams and to receive medical care as outpatient or with Day Hospital. It is also possible to take part to training and information initiatives and sport, leisure and free time activities offered by the association AUS Niguarda Onlus and ASBIN Onlus and by the cooperative Spazio Vita Niguarda Onlus.

Cooperative Spazio Vita Niguarda Onlus

The cooperative is born in July 2013 to manage building work of Centro Spazio Vita. It was founded by the two associations that work for more than 10 years in the Spinal Injuries Centre: Aus Niguarda Onlus (Niguarda’s Spinal Unit Association) and ASBIN Onlus (Niguarda’s Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association).

Over the years AUS and ASBIN have developed procedures of social integration that now supplement clinical rehabilitation program of patients with spinal injury and Spina Bifida of Spinal Injuries Centre. Started as voluntary organizations, AUS and ASBIN now have an organized structure, the number of members is progressively growing and their employees have specific skills.

Thanks to an agreement with Niguarda Hospital, the associations have available for free an area of 600 sq.m next to Spinal Injuries Centre and through the fund raising they have collected the asset for building the Centre. It is a sustainable structure of 550 sq.m owned by Niguarda Hospital that, through a convention, have entrusted the management to the cooperative until 2033.

Spazio Vita Niguarda guarantees continuity to activities dedicated to Spinal Injuries Centre’s patients, working with AUS and ASBIN and accepting their mandate for social integration activities of rehabilitation program. The cooperative also has the goal to offer support and carriage to people dismissed or living in district that since 2002, when Spinal Injuries Centre born, is a large community of people with mobility handicaps because of the lack of accessible structures in Milan district.

Spazio Vita’s proposals want to be a diversified offer, based on needs, features and expectations of target people, because it is important to have a shared program where the person has a central role in its own life project.

Spazio Vita wants to be e bridge between hospital and territory, in order to facilitate the passage from staying in hospital to staying at home.

Spazio Vita Centre is one of the few meeting places in an hospital that it’s opened to all Milanese citizens. The centre is managed by people with disabilities, promoting activities that foster the meeting between disabled persons and citizens, because acquaintance and meeting can modified culture and prejudice that obstruct social inclusion.

Since September 2016 at Spazio Vita Centre it’s operating Spazio Libero, an aggregation centre for disabled people of age, accredited by the Municipality of Milan. Thanks to Spazio Libero, Centre’s opening time is longer and activities can be organized also during evening and weekends. Spazio Libero offers opportunities of socialization and it’s goal is to recognize free time as a special place of personal and cultural growing and self-care.

For more details on centre’s activities read the attached projects curriculum of 2016.

Partner: AUS Niguarda Onlus

AUS Niguarda Onlus is a volunteer association founded in 1998 by a group of person with spinal injuries and health workers in order to promote the realization of the Spinal Injuires Centre of Niguarda.

Nowadays AUS Niguarda Onlus works in close contact with Spinal Injuries Centre’s workers.

Association works to realize initiatives and services connected with problems in rehabilitation and social, familiar and work reintegration of persons with spinal injuries, helping paraplegic and tetraplegic persons in those aspects that affect life quality.

Major activities:

  • Help desk for patients and their parents and for other person with spinal injury about various topics as legislation, architectural barriers, career guidance, sport, tourism and free time;
  • Psychosocial support for patients and parents through:
  1. A social worker who supports patients and family handling procedures and helping them to get in touch with territorial services;
  2. Organizing groups of mutual support for patients, ex-patients and parents managed by professional counsellor and by persons with spinal injuries, from several years, who tell their personal experience;
  • Informational meetings for patients and parents on topics managed by help desk with Spinal Injuries Centre workers and on other interesting topics like scientific research on spinal injuries; 
  • Introduction to the sport: AUS Niguarda, thanks to a protocol signed with the Italian Paralympic Committee and Niguarda Hospital, coordinate all the activities of the project “Introduction to the sport and the practice of different sports in Spinal Injuries Centre”, both during the stay in hospital and after the discharge from hospital, when there is a real introduction to the sport. The project is based on continuing the sport started during rehabilitation. After the discharge, paraplegic and tetraplegic persons are informed about how they can continue to practice sport. Practice and introduction to different sports has been started for several years: fencing, swim, archery, basket, table tennis and tchoukball, so paraplegic and tetraplegic person can continue to practice sport.
  • Support Spinal Injuries Centre in setting up projects and finding founds for special needs (buying machineries and equipments, starting up sperimental projects in partnership with Cooperative Spazio Vita);
  • Promote supplementary activities in the rehabilitation program, like digital occupational therapy (teaching how to use IT aid for PC and tablet), Pet Therapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy with the collaboration of Cooperative Spazio Vita Niguarda Onlus;
  • Aggregative moments for patients and all paraplegic and tetraplegic person that came by (parties, card tournaments, showing of films with the collaboration of Medicinema Italia Onlus);
  • Conferences and workshops on global rehabilitation of person with spinal injuries;
  • Since 2011promotion, in collaboration with ASBIN (Niguarda’s Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association), of the project Together with Spazio Vita and foundation of Cooperative Spazio Vita Onlus in 2013.

Asbin Onlus

Niguarda’s Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association is a volunteer association founded in June 1989 by a group of volunteers, doctors and parents. The aim is to support Niguarda’s Spina Bifida Centre that started its activity at the end of the ‘80s thanks to the initiative of doctor Rino Rossi, chief of paediatric surgery.

Now the Centre assists more than 400 children every year with specialist services .

The multidisciplinary team supported by ASBIN Onlus works together in order to give a complete and multidisciplinary assistance to our patients and their families.

ASBIN main objective is to support economically and operatively the activity of Niguarda’s Spina Bifida Centre and to guarantee a qualified medical and rehabilitative assistance, psychological support to person affected by Spina Bifida and to the family and to organize various activities that integrate the treatment and rehabilitation program offered by Spina Bifida Centre.

ASBIN is at Niguarda Hospital, with spaces in the Spinal Injuries Centre and in the Spazio Vita Niguarda Centre.