Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Following A Car Accident

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Following a traumatic accident, like a car accident, spinal cord injury rehabilitation is twofold:

Initially, there is the acute recovery phase. This begins from the time of injury up until the point the individual is stabilised.

The second phase is the spinal injury rehabilitation. This strives to prevent complications, maximise function and reintegrate the individual into employment.

Rehabilitation often takes place in an outpatient environment. However, depending on the location and severity of the spinal cord injury, it can take place in an inpatient setting.


Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Following a Car Accident: The Processes Explained

Every spinal cord injury is unique as is the rehabilitation process for each patient. But, there are recognisable milestones throughout any rehab process. The general points that any spinal cord injury rehab plan will include are as follows:

• Helping the individual and family to understand the injury sustained and what it means

• Helping them become as functionally independent as possible in activities of daily living (ADLs)

• Enabling them to be a competent wheelchair user if necessary

• Helping the individual adjust and accept a new lifestyle -particularly regarding sexual, recreational and housing options

• Helping the individual understand the benefits of personal carers

• Preparing the individual to maintain or return to employment.

A dedicated and expert  rehabilitation team will decide on specific goals with the patient. From then develop a plan that is appropriate for the patient’s personal situation.


A Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Team:

SCI Rehabilitation is undertaken by a multidisciplinary team. It is this team who ensure the individual receives an all-encompassing rehabilitative programme. This includes:

• Physical therapists focus on lower extremity function and on difficulties with mobility

• Occupational therapists address upper extremity dysfunction and difficulties in ADL.

• Rehabilitation nurses target problems of bowel or bladder and the management of pressure ulcers

• Psychologists deal with the emotional and behavioural aspects of learning to accept and adjust to living with a spinal cord injury

• Speech-language pathologists focus on communication and swallowing

This rehabilitation team functions under the direction of a physiatrist. This is a physician who specialises in physical medicine and rehabilitation.


Acute Recovery

The spinal cord injury rehabilitation process begins in an acute recovery setting. Recent studies emphasise the importance of early recovery and that early rehabilitation leads to better functional outcomes.

Acute recovery is a triple layered defence against the initial consequences of SCI. It includes the teaching of coping skills, physical therapy & examination and physical interventions:

Firstly, a patient’s respiratory functions will be examined and evaluated. Depending on the level of lesion, the muscles responsible for expanding the thorax be affected. If this is the case, physical therapists (PTs) teach SCI patients alternative breathing techniques.

Secondly, functional electrical stimulation allows PTs to assist paralysed patients with bodily functions. For example, coughing, clearing of secretion and stretching of the thoracic wall.

Lastly, acute recovery focuses on the overarching aim to improve locomotor functionalities. Prognoses vary greatly on expected or even possible improvements in this arena. However, PTs strive to reach every patient's optimal mobility level at this early stage.


Post Discharge Rehabilitation Therapy

It is during this second stage that the individual takes more of an active role in the rehab process. They will work with their SCI rehab team to devise individual goals.

The overarching aim is to achieve the highest level of functional independence.

Depending on the level of lesion, whatever sparing the patient has is optimised. Various options are available to enhance a spinal injury patient’s mobility, functionality and communication:

Assistive technologies

Assistive Technology’ is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices. All of which promote greater independence for people with disabilities. Assistive devices aim to optimise further whatever sparing the patient does or doesn't have.

For both quadriplegics and paraplegics , there is a huge range of technologies available:

For example, many devices offer renewed freedom and heightened levels of independence. Their drive on increasing communication abilities resultantly deflate common feelings of isolation and loneliness.

If you are interested in any assistive devices, please speak to your occupational therapist. It is they who will be best placed to discuss your options in more detail.


Going Home

For many spinal cord injured people, the scariest and most confusing time can be going home.

It is often when the full impact of spinal injury is realised. It is not common for people to feel a range of emotions from sadness to anger, frustration and even a form of grief.

Our partners Aspire Charity are on hand to make leaving the hospital and moving from injury to independence that bit easier. Aspire are a national charity providing practical help to people who have been paralysed by spinal injury.

They can help in a number of ways: From offering practical help, financial aid or just good honest simple advice. Some of Aspire’s most popular services are listed below:

• Aspire Grants provide funds to help people buy specialist and assistive equipment they need

Aspire Housing provides fully accessible properties for use on a short-term basis 

Aspire Independent Living Advisors provide advice and guidance to patients

Aspire’s Assistive Technology facilities ensure that everyone has independent access to a computer.

Welfare Benefits Advice Service provides appropriate advice and support.

Aspire campaigns to make changes that benefit every one of the 40,000 people in the UK with a spinal cord injury.


How Aspire Law can help

If you sustain a spinal cord injury, a successful compensation claim  can mean the world. Adjusting to life and living with a disability, unfortunately, does not come cheap. One way to manage these costs is to secure compensation.

A fair financial settlement can ensure that you and your family are able to maintain as normal a level of independence as possible.

Even if you feel that you were in some way partly to blame, you should speak to a specialist spinal cord injury law firm. 

At Aspire Law, we have even settled many claims where our client was partly to blame for their accident. If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury please get in touch, we really could transform your life. 

See also...

Road traffic accidents: the most common cause of spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injury and car accidents: the common signs and symptoms

What next after a spinal injury from a car incident

Spinal cord injury advice following a car accident

Compensation following a car accident

Spinal cord injury and car accidents: establishing blame