Mobility patient consultation with Dr. Brian Higdon

The Importance of Specialized Care for a Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious trauma. It affects a person’s physical, social, and psychological well-being, and it often places them under a substantial financial burden. According to the World Health Organization, SCI patients are 2-5 times more likely to die prematurely than people without an SCI.

The complexity of SCIs requires the highly specialized skills of licensed, qualified, and experienced healthcare providers. Brooks Rehabilitation provides each SCI patient with an individualized treatment plan based on their level of injury and specific treatment needs.

In our spinal cord injury treatment and rehabilitation program, our physicians and therapists work with patients physically and psychologically to maximize their health and overall neurological recovery. We strive to have our SCI patients return to their homes as independently and productively as possible.

Spinal Cord Injury Specialists

A reputable spinal cord injury team should be equipped with clinicians and therapists specialized in treating spinal injuries.

The best SCI rehabilitation programs should be overseen by a medical director and an interdisciplinary team that includes a physical therapist, psychologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and a nurse case manager, each with specialized training in SCIs.

Spinal cord injury patients require a comprehensive system of care that offers everything the patient needs for a quick recovery.

Brooks’ physical therapists are board certified and specialize in neurological therapy. Their SCI care goes beyond expertise; they treat their patients like family.

Brooks Rehabilitation clinicians are invested in using up-to-date technology and the latest research to learn each patient’s story and use this data, their diagnosis, and medical records to provide the best possible treatment.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians (PM&R)

PM&R physicians specialize in promoting fast healing and the rehabilitation of SCI patients who have suffered a disability or injury. Their primary goal is to educate patients and their families about SCIs, improve their mobility function, and maintain their overall physical health.

Preventing further complications or injury is crucial for quick recovery while preparing the patient to return to the community. This may include anything from surgery to maintain the patient’s spine stability after the injury occurred, to providing breathing devices and other equipment to prevent further injury.

PM&R physicians specialize in treating the whole person under their care. They address the patient’s physical, social, and emotional needs during rehabilitation and treatment.

Case Management

Case managers also play a critical role in helping patients with severe injuries manage their rehabilitation, treatment, and care needs. They help patients achieve maximum independence during their treatment and higher quality of life after treatment.

Case managers work with patients to reflect on their current situation, identify their support needs, and monitor their progress. They work round the clock to promote independence and to coordinate and provide services the patient may need.

The core skills of a case manager working with Brooks Rehabilitation include:

  • Person-centered planning
  • Working within legislative boundaries
  • Catastrophic injury education and management
  • Monitoring and evaluating outcomes
  • Supporting, engaging, and motivating people with compromised self-efficacy
  • Coordination of complex rehabilitation programs

Case managers empower and enable SCI patients to make critical choices about their lives and how they want to live.

Rehabilitation Nursing

Rehabilitation nurses assist SCI patients to adapt to their altered lifestyle. They design and implement treatment modalities based on scientifically proven, evidence-based practices. Nurses teach patients self-care and promote physical, psychological, and spiritual healing and health.

Rehabilitation nursing can mitigate or prevent further injury while promoting the best possible treatment outcome. Establishing a baseline helps rehabilitation nurses to detect patient improvements or deterioration promptly. Their assessments are interprofessional and involve care providers, nurses, and therapists.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists play a key role in a patient’s recovery after a spinal cord injury. This healthcare specialist will be there throughout most of the patient’s spinal cord rehabilitation to guide them toward achieving optimal recovery throughout the rehabilitation and treatment process.

At its core, the primary purpose of a physical therapist is to:

  • Prevent secondary complications and other health issues
  • Maximize the patient’s sensory and motor function recovery
  • Help the patient reintegrate with society from inpatient recovery

A great physical therapist tailors the patient’s rehabilitative treatment based on their goals and injury level. This may include comparing factors like complete SCI vs. incomplete SCI or a cervical SCI vs. a lumbar SCI.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists are client-centered health professionals concerned with promoting the patient’s health and overall well-being through occupation. Their primary goal is to help patients to participate in regular activities in their everyday lives.

Occupational therapy also utilizes a holistic approach by employing practical exercises and activity-based techniques to improve patients’ abilities to engage in everyday activities. These may include simple tasks like getting out of bed on their own, brushing their teeth, or feeding themselves.

Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)

Throughout the treatment program, a speech-language pathologist integrates treatments to help patients swallow and communicate after an SCI. The SLP incorporates guidelines outlined by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for people with a dual diagnosis of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

The speech and language pathologist assesses and treats the level of cognitive impairment suffered from the head injury.

Counseling and Psychology Services

Our team of counselors and psychologists at Brooks Rehabilitation always have an understanding of complex social and psychological changes that impact their patients and families. From the initial onset, our psychologists and social workers provide a comprehensive support system that is constantly accommodating and helps patients meet challenges in their lives after an SCI.

Respiratory Therapy

Most SCI patients are prone to respiratory impairments, depending on the patient’s injury level and severity. Respiratory therapists take all possible measures to protect their patient’s airway while maintaining adequate respiration.

Cervical SCIs and high thoracic SCIs can put the patient at a higher risk of respiratory insufficiency. On the other hand, lower spinal injuries have less impact on the motor function of the patient’s respiratory muscles. Our team recommends that respiratory therapists be a part of the rehabilitation and treatment team, with round-the-clock availability.

Spasticity Management

Reputable rehabilitation centers treat spasticity with a multidisciplinary approach for the best treatment outcome. This includes having a physician and the necessary rehabilitation specialists required to perform the appropriate medical interventions like the following:

  • Oral medication
  • Localized injections
  • Medication delivered through a pump

Spasticity specialists focus on active and functional movement patterns to assist patients with strategies aimed at increasing their independence with mobility, speech, and activities of daily living (ADLs) through physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.

Peer Monitoring

People with SCI-related impairments who are able to live successfully with their condition can offer support, mentoring, role modeling, and encouragement to newly injured patients and their families. Peer monitoring is useful and valuable in the rehabilitation program as it helps prepare new patients for their transition into their new lives.

Peer monitoring helps newly injured patients adjust to challenges, such as:

The primary goal of peer mentoring is to provide emotional support while helping patients to connect with their rehabilitation classes and support groups.

Outpatient Programs and Long-Term Care

Brooks’ commitment to treating spinal cord injuries does not end when our patients are discharged. Our specialized and compassionate team provides the same level of expert rehabilitative care to individual patients on an outpatient basis and at home when necessary.

Our goal is to stay involved with all our patients throughout our outpatient spinal cord care programs and on a long-term basis. We offer a personalized experience to empower each patient through their recovery.

Outpatient services at Brooks Rehabilitation include:

We also encourage patients to attend our peer monitoring and support groups to share their experiences and gain valuable encouragement and continued support.

Spinal Cord Injury Research

Our spinal cord injury program is overseen by a qualified medical director and interdisciplinary team with specialized training in SCI cases. The ongoing SCI research and technology used at Brooks guarantees that we always have and use scientifically proven techniques to serve patient needs and empower them for a quick recovery.

Our Clinical Research Center conducts innovative research studies to expand our knowledge of the science of recovery for all patients.

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation at Brooks

Brooks Rehabilitation prides itself on using the most up-to-date technology to facilitate neuro-recovery and maximize patient progress. Other treatment sessions in the SCI program include the following:

Whoever you work with in your SCI treatment program, we have an experienced and passionate specialist to help you become the best version of yourself after your SCI.

Contact us today to start your spinal cord injury treatment and rehabilitation. Visit our many locations to learn more about how our SCI specialists can help promote optimal quality of life after a spinal cord injury.

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