Spinal Cord Rehabilitation App: Digital Support for Recovering Patients

Spinal Cord Injury

In any spinal cord injury (SCI) recovery process, rehabilitation plays a huge part in regaining a normal and as independent a life as possible post-injury. Spinal injury rehabilitation not only stabilises the injury itself (acute recovery), but, via a multitude of treatments and techniques, it also works to prevent and reduce physical complications, improve mental processing of the experience, maximise function and mobility and reintegrate individuals into employment and daily life.

Depending on the location and severity of the spinal cord injury, rehabilitation can take place in both an inpatient and outpatient setting. Regardless of which setting applies, the end of any rehab course can be incredibly daunting. The transition to home life can be the most complex stage of any recovery process; because home is often where the struggles start, when the impact of such a permanent injury sinks in. This is due to inaccessible housing, having to manage a multitude of symptoms and also because you are surrounded by objects and photos that are constant reminders of life before.

Fortunately, many understand this and there is a multitude of organisations out there that work for the sole purpose of improving lives for those with spinal cord injury. For example, Aspire Charity provide "practical help to people who have been paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury, supporting them from injury to independence". Health Storylines are another organisation aiming to improve life post injury as "self-care advocates who believe that the key to healthcare innovation is to hear the voice of the patient".

As means to achieve this end, Health Storylines have developed an app: SCI Health Storylines App, in partnership with University of British Columbia.

An App designed to support SCI recovery

The SCI Health Storylines App itself was designed and built with the intention of bringing core care tools to patients themselves, along with specific SCI recovery aiding features. These features include the ability to easily record and manage bowel, bladder, Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD), pain and temperature levels at all times. 

This app also has a “My Storylines” section which allows users - or users’ caregivers if required - to track their mood, symptoms and vitals, recording a detailed journal of their experiences. With mental rehabilitation and recovery now playing just as large a part as the physical side - if not more - this is a big breakthrough.

According to the creators of the SCI Storylines App, the app now makes it “easy to record your symptoms, moods, medication, and more for spinal cord injury management. Choose what you want to track to build your own health story. This enables you to learn more about your health, and share more with your healthcare provider, so you both see the full story.”

The data recorded can then be shared with caregivers, doctors and a wider support circle so those that care can be involved in the rehabilitation process as much as required. This offers full collaboration on treatment strategies.

To download the app on iOS, please click here.

To download the app on Android, please click here.

Does it work?

The app itself has undergone stringent testing, including a study of 20 spinal cord injury rehabilitation patients, whose injury levels ranged from 40% ASIA A to 5% ASIA D and whom were aged between 21 and 80

The app was tested with each patient being in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital environment. These patients were evaluated on admission, to set a benchmark of improvement for the app’s success. 

After an average inpatient rehabilitation process of 67 days, 85% of patients had used the app throughout their treatment, with 1.7 individual entries on average being made daily.

At the time of discharge, several significant improvements were noted and linked to the contributions the use of the app had made. One common improvement seen across the group and that was noted was in the self-management and confidence in bowel issues.

Clearly, giving patients and their immediate caregivers the right tools to increase their independence, knowledge and understanding of their own injuries is a vital and unavoidable aspect of rehabilitation medicine. And, being in a firmly digital world, isn’t it time that there was an app for that?

Brian Chau, MD, has commented saying that “a particularly interesting aspect here is the use of a health app on the inpatient side to prepare patients for the transition to home.” He continued saying that “ultimately, moving from feasibility studies to efficacy studies may help move the apps forward and into wider adoption.”

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation with Aspire centres

Our partners Aspire Charity make leaving the hospital and moving from injury to independence that bit easier.

Aspire’s services are available to all: whether you are new patients in an NHS Spinal Cord Injury Centre, have just been discharged from hospital or even if you have been living with the injury for years, Aspire can help you in a range of ways:

Aspire Housing 

• Aspire Grants 

Aspire’s Assistive Technology 

Aspire Independent Living Advisors 

Aspire campaigns 

Welfare Benefits Advice Service

Self management and support - Contact us

Here at Aspire Law we are in a unique position, having an unrivalled understanding of the complexities that arise from spinal cord injuries. Resultantly, we are no newbies to the fact that adjusting to and living with a disability does not come cheap. One way to manage these costs is to secure compensation.

At Aspire Law, we have even settled many claims where our client was partly to blame for their accident. If you would like to discuss your situation or even to find out if you even have a claim worth pursuing, please get in touch today.


See also...

Independence after injury: how a mobile phone can offer a lifeline to those with a spinal cord injury

New rehabilitation model will benefit specialist spinal cord injury charity

Early Rehabilitation after Spinal Cord Injury Leads To Better Functional Outcomes