The Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, has opened a new state-of-the-art outpatient center that will improve and expand services to children and young adults with developmental disabilities and spinal cord injuries in the Baltimore/Washington region and across the nation, according to the Institute.

The 115,000-square-foot center, located in the newly constructed Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, features aquatic therapy pools and a therapeutic garden, which create new opportunities to care for patients with a range of disabilities in innovative ways, says the Institute.

The Outpatient Center and Weinberg Building were funded by $35 million raised as part of Unlocking Potential: The Campaign for Kennedy Krieger Institute. The campaign also raised $20 million to expand research and programs across the Institute, such as those for autism, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, and brain injury.

The majority of a Baltimore city block was transformed into an outdoor therapeutic garden to promote healing in a natural, aesthetically pleasing environment, says the Institute. The garden includes a labyrinth and three therapy “rooms” where therapists can help patients practice real-world challenges, such as going up a curb, maneuvering a tight ramp in a wheel chair, walking up and down differently-sized steps, and traversing various surfaces from concrete to pebbles to grass.

With a floor of its own, the aquatic therapy center allows patients to escape the limitations of gravity as they learn new skills and undergo therapy for a traumatic injury or developmental disability, says the Institute. Two pools are equipped with underwater treadmills, video systems, sensory temperature controls, and hydraulic lifts that allow the floors to be raised and lowered for easy access by patients in wheelchairs.

More than 7,500 square feet is dedicated to rehabilitative therapy gyms, allowing physical therapy, occupational therapy, and advanced restorative therapy to take place in open, expansive spaces with the state-of-the-art technologies for treating patients with disabilities, according to the Institute.

A dramatic use of color builds from the green of the ground floor to the sky blue of the top floor, and natural light floods nearly every space, says the facility. The Institute incorporated green elements into the building’s design to increase efficiency and reduce energy usage. such as different kinds of glass that absorb less heat, carpet tiles that can be individually replaced if necessary, and energy efficient lights and transformers.

The Institute serves more than 13,000 people annually through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services and school-based programs.

[Source: Kennedy Krieger Institute]