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Mission Statement

The mission of the Spinal Cord Injury Medicine (SCIM) Fellowship is to produce compassionate physicians who are highly skilled and trained to provide exemplary care to individuals with spinal cord injury and spinal cord diseases. In our experience and according to previous research, many individuals with spinal cord injury have great difficulty identifying physicians in their local areas who are equipped to treat their injury. By increasing the number of physicians who are fellowship trained in spinal cord injury medicine, we will meet the need of our patients who frequently find themselves without adequate access to care. This aligns directly with the mission of Atrium Health to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing-for all.

Aims of the Program

The SCIM fellowship is a 12-month program that focuses on specialized training on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of traumatic spinal cord injury, nontraumatic myelopathies and spinal cord injury related diseases, as well as the management of medical, physical, psychosocial and vocational consequences and complications that may occur during the lifetime of people with spinal cord dysfunction. This fellowship includes the full continuum of clinical experiences from the initial acute care management of spinal cord injury, to acute inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation, and outpatient follow-up and therapies to optimize functional recovery, and management of the secondary complications associated with spinal cord injury. This will afford trainees the best opportunity to be exposed to diverse patient populations in a range of settings. The goals and objectives of the program are centered around the clinical core competencies of the patient-physician interaction and will be incorporated into all aspects of the fellowship.

Spinal Cord Injury Fellowship Program

Carolinas Rehabilitation is offering a one-year ACGME fellowship in spinal cord injury rehabilitation for a board-eligible/board-certified physiatrist, or other qualified medical specialists. Carolinas Rehabilitation is a 192-bed, rehabilitation hospital network. All or our facilities are accredited by CARF and TJC. Carolinas Rehabilitation-Charlotte now resides in a newly opened 72 bed facility (January 2023), also known as the David L. Conlan Rehabilitation Hospital. It has a 24 bed unit dedicated to spinal cord injury and is the primary teaching site for the fellowship Additional clinical experiences are completed adjacent to CR at our Level 1 trauma center, Carolinas Medical Center. 
The fellowship allows for flexibility amongst SCIM related clinical interests and also provides relevant research opportunities.

Clinical opportunities include: 

  • Inpatient and outpatient management of patients with SCI throughout the continuum of care, from acute care admission to outpatient f/u
  • Neurogenic bladder dysfunction/Neuro-Urology, neurogenic bowel dysfunction/ GI dysmotility, pediatric SCI/Spina bifida, ALS, Post-polio, are just some of the available experiences.
  • Extensive experience in a comprehensive approach to spasticity that includes both medical and procedural (e.g., botulinum toxin and phenol injections, and Baclofen pump management) options.
  • Symptomatic intervention to improve quality of life.
  • Integration of system-based practice for successful practice development

The clinical experience provides time for learning opportunities with 2 neuro-urologists that work on-site at CR, as well as neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine specialists and trauma surgeons located at the Carolinas Medical Center

 Interested candidates must have excellent clinical and academic credentials and be highly motivated to experience a very active clinical fellowship.

Please view our brochure (PDF) for further information on the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation fellowship.

We accept applications from SCIM fellowship candidates, only via the link below where you will find information on the application and Match processes. 

SCI Fellowship – Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, Inc. (

Please send additional questions to:

Sandra M. Watson
Program Coordinator
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
1100 Blythe Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203

Meet the Faculty


William Bockenek, MD
Chair, Department of PM&R, Carolinas Medical Center, Carolinas Rehabilitation
Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Director of SCIM Fellowship
Clinical Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine

Dr. Bockenek is the Chairman of the Dept. of PM&R at Carolinas Medical Center and Chief Medical Officer of Carolinas Rehabilitation. He graduated medical school at the University of South Florida and completed his PMR residency at Rutgers NJ Medical School and the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation.

Dr. Bockenek is a clinical professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He is certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Spinal Cord Injury Medicine by the ABPMR, as well as Electrodiagnostic Medicine by the ABEM. He is also certified by the Certifying Commission in Medical Management as a Certified Physician Executive (CPE). He has been practicing SCIM for over 30 years, was Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Carolinas Rehabilitation for over 15 years and was the inaugural Residency Program Director of the PM&R Residency program at Carolinas Medical Center, and served in that role for 15 years.

He is a former member and vice-chair of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, where he was chair of the Spinal Cord Injury Medicine committee and MOC committee, for many years. He was also a member and Chair of the Residency Review Committee for PMR within the ACGME and following his term on the RRC, chaired the committee that developed the initial ACGME PMR Milestones for the Next Accreditation System. He is also previously served on the Board of the American Paraplegia Society, the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals and the American Spinal Injury Association. He is the currently the director of the Program for Academic Leadership within the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

Dr. Bockenek enjoys hiking, bicycling, kayaking and spending time with his family and friends in the NC mountains.


Michael Ortiz, MD
Faculty Physician, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Assistant Director of SCIM Fellowship
Clinical Assistant Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Dr. Michael Ortiz received his undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA and his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH.

He completed an Internal Medicine Internship at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, GA and residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Utah in Salt Lake City where he served as Chief Resident and graduated in 2019. Following residency, he completed a fellowship in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine at Harvard Medical School/Spaulding/VA Boston in Boston, MA in 2020.

During his spare time, Dr. Ortiz enjoys sport climbing, bouldering, running, hiking, painting and studies in Greek/Roman/Norse mythology. Please help us welcome Dr. Ortiz to the Carolinas Rehabilitation family!


J. George Thomas, MD
Medical Director, Carolinas Rehabilitation-Pineville, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine
Clinical Assistant Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Dr. Thomas received his medical degree from Trivandrum Medical College in Kerala, India. He completed his internship in Internal Medicine at St. Francis Hospital and his residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at University of Missouri School of Medicine. Following residency, he completed a fellowship in SCIM at the University of Miami School of Medicine/Jackson Memorial Hospital. Subsequently, he became an attending physician on the inpatient rehabilitation unit and teaching faculty for the PM&R residency program at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and received multiple teaching awards from former resident trainees.

Dr. Thomas is board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and received subspecialty certification in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. He is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals. His clinical interests include the use of neuropharmacology in spinal cord injury and brain injuries/Stroke and burn rehabilitation and wound care.

Dr. Thomas is married with two daughters and enjoys photography, traveling and playing soccer.


Tobias Tsai, MD
Medical Director, Pediatric Rehabilitation at Levine Children's Hospital
Clinical Assistant Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Dr. Tsai received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. He completed his internship at University of Rochester and his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Tsai is nationally recognized as a leader in Pediatric Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, providing comprehensive services for children of all ages who have experienced a debilitating illness or injury. His clinical interests include cerebral palsy, spina bifida and brain injury.

Dr. Tsai has presented at national and international medical conferences and is a member of many pediatric and rehabilitation medical organizations.

Dr. Tsai is married and has a son and daughter and enjoys spending time with family and friends.


Michael J. Kennelly, MD, FACS
Medical Director, Charlotte Continence Center
Director, Urology Services,
Clinical Professor of Urology at Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Dr. Michael J. Kennelly is fellowship trained and board-certified urologist with subspecialty certification in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Academically, he is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Urology at Wake Forest School of Medicine and is actively involved in the training of fellows and residents. Administratively, he is Medical Director of the Charlotte Continence Center at Carolinas Medical Center, Director of Urology at Carolinas Rehabilitation, and Co-Director of the Women’s Center for Pelvic Health.

His interests are in the medical and surgical treatment of urinary incontinence and other types of voiding dysfunction, neuromodulation, prolapse repair, complex redo female urologic surgery, neuro-urology and fistula repair. He participates in numerous clinical trials and regularly serves as organizer, invited lecturer and visiting professor at local, national and international events.

Dr. Kennelly has authored or coauthored several journal articles, book chapters and educational videos in the areas of urinary incontinence and neuro-urology and has lectured extensively on these topics. A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, he is also a member of 10 professional organizations and holds several leadership positions. He is a Board of Director of the Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine & Urogenital Reconstruction and Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals. He is a past-President of the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, a past-President of the American Paraplegic Society and a past President of the American Spinal Injury Association. In addition, he is a past Chairman of the Bladder Health Committee for the AUA Urology Care Foundation.