New Delhi: A spinal cord injury (SCI) can impinge on every aspect of an individual’s life- physically, emotionally and socially. Being the connecting link between brain and rest of the body, any kind damage to the spinal cord or backbone can lead to several temporary and permanent changes in the body. Some of these may include loss of bodily movements, sensation and all types of reflex actions. Over time, people with spinal cord injury (SCI) could also be exposed to long-term risks including cardiovascular problems, depression, bladder, lung infections etc. With effective treatment and protocol-driven multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes, they could overcome preventable complications and improve functional strength to lead productive and independent lives.
Benefits of a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation Programme
Since spinal cord injuries can create serious disabilities in people, the rehabilitation programme is often a long and exhaustive process. However, early induction into an organized rehabilitation programme will help individuals to minimize the risk of contractures, loss of muscle and bone density and issues pertaining to the respiratory, digestive and urinary system.
Listed below are some other key benefits of enrolling in a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation Programme:
Holistic recovery to prevent risks of any long-term complications as a result of the injury
Maximum possible level of functional independence
Strengthening of upper extremities, muscles and bones
Reduced risk of secondary complications and disabilities
Restoration of emotional and psychological state reducing the incidence of depression
Easeful integration of the individual to the society
Role of Family in SCI Recovery Journey:
Caring for a dear one who is battling with spinal cord injury can be quite challenging to the family members as well. Due to the severe limitations caused by the injury, patients will be dependent on the family to perform even simple activities of daily living (ADLs) for several days or months together. As a result, the quality of lives of the caregivers takes a blow exposing them to psychological issues including loss of identity, anxiety, depression etc. However, through professional support and structured integration, family members can be converted to pillars of a rehabilitation programme. By empowering them with necessary knowledge and skill sets, caregivers will feel a renewed sense of interest in actively contributing to the recovery process. An informed family member can assist in early and effective recuperation of the patients through confidence-building and better coping strategies.
How Multidisciplinary Care Helps?
Since Spinal Cord is one of the key components of the Nervous System, any type of damage it suffers can lead to varied physiological and psychological consequences. Therefore, it is important to have a multidisciplinary approach in all the treatment interventions to maximize patient outcomes.
The following line of activities is collectively undertaken by different professionals in a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) rehab programme:
The core medical team comprising of physicians identifies the nature of injury, co-morbidities and accordingly design treatment plan to prevent medical complications, diagnose and treat them early.
Consulting specialists (Spine surgeon, pulmonologist, urologist etc) are involved if any particular complications are detected or anticipated. Pharmacists work in close consultation with physicians to provide pain and muscle relaxants when required.
Nurses who have received advanced training in rehabilitative and restorative techniques work collaboratively with the rehabilitation team. While they provide core clinical nursing care, they help patients cope with altered lifestyle and promotes physical and psychological health through evidence-based treatment strategies.
Occupational and physiotherapists help in achieving best possible functional outcomes of patients by building on their endurance, strength and flexibility through a host of activities.
The team that provides psychological services is crucial to any Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) rehabilitation programme since they offer continuous support to achieve optimal behavioural and social functioning
Why Recover in an Inpatient Setting?
Studies conducted by research bodies and rehab organizations like SuVitas Holistic Healthcare has validated the role of family-led rehabilitation in an inpatient setting. Results indicated, patients reported reduced dependency, maximized function and enhanced participation in the community. Other research insights have brought to light the negative outcomes (including re-hospitalization, associated complications etc.) seen in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) patients who did not receive specialized inpatient rehabilitation. Family meetings with multidisciplinary team ensured that patient and the family was better equipped to handle continuity of care at home.
Family-led Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) multidisciplinary rehabilitation in an inpatient setting will thus improve adherence to an advised rehabilitation care plan , provide better outcomes and improved continuity and quality of care. By Dr Vijay Janagama, Director, New Initiatives, SuVitas Holistic Healthcare
(Disclaimer–Features may vary depending on the regions; subject to change without notice.)