Legislation passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Jan. 5, 2023, designates TIRR Memorial Hermann a National Rehabilitation Innovation Center. The Dr. Joanne Smith Memorial Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act of 2022 recognizes a leading class of pioneering rehabilitation research facilities across the United States that set the standard for ongoing study and clinical care. The act helps ensure that best practices and cutting-edge research are disseminated widely to maximize patient outcomes.

Rhonda Abbott“From our earliest days of providing rehabilitation to people affected by polio, TIRR Memorial Hermann has been known for embracing innovation in its clinical, education, research and advocacy efforts,” says Rhonda Abbott, PT, FTPTA, MBA, senior vice president and chief executive officer of TIRR Memorial Hermann and system executive for rehabilitation services at the Memorial Hermann Health System. “We join our colleague institutions in gratitude to all in Congress for this national designation and with reflection on the responsibility it brings. We will continue creating hope for patients with complex health conditions, teaching future clinicians, redefining medical rehabilitation science, translating the implementation of best practices into standard-of-care interventions and disseminating proven clinical pathways across the country and globally.”

The law, which was more than a decade in the making, legally defines institutions that conduct specified federal research and training programs for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, and which serve a certain number of Medicare patients. It also directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to disseminate best practices and lessons from these facilities through the completion of studies designed to shape the future of post-acute care.

A TIRR Memorial Hermann patient practices balancing with Osseointegration.“This is exciting news for many patients who need tailored, state-of-the-art rehabilitation to resume a fulfilling life. The bipartisan legislative achievement is driven in large part by the ongoing distinction of TIRR Memorial Hermann, recognized worldwide as a leader in research and treatment for patients with the most challenging, complex conditions,” says former Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, Texas, who played a significant role in ushering the bill toward passage. “I have seen their work up close, and it is beyond amazing. Now, with the designation as a National Rehabilitation Innovation Center, TIRR Memorial Hermann can propel rehabilitation medicine far into the future, providing hope for generations to come.”

The act is named after the late Dr. Joanne Smith, who was president and chief executive officer of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. The legislation was authored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.). Co-sponsors include Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.). Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) were also instrumental in advancing this legislation.

TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital ranked No. 2 among the country’s top rehabilitation hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospital rankings for 2022-2023. TIRR Memorial Hermann was previously ranked No. 2 in the 2021-2022 rankings, and has been included in the prestigious rankings since the report’s inception in 1989.

Spring 2023 Edition
US News and World Report Best Hospitals Badge
Nationally Ranked Rehabilitation

For the 34th consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 4 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.

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