Physiotherapy for Spinal Cord Injury
Physiotherapy for spinal cord injury plays a role after treatment in the acute period following the injury has taken place. With respect to causes, spinal cord injury is a result of a high energy trauma in young individuals or even due to lower energy trauma (i.e. falls) in older patients. Motor vehicle accidents account for approximately half of cases while falls and gunshot wounds also are contributing causes. The level of impairment patients experience is determined by the level of the cord injury and whether the sensory and motor loss is complete or incomplete.
Physiotherapy Goals for Spinal Cord Injury
Rehabilitation goals for patients with spinal cord injury are to assess and identify mechanisms for reintegration into the community based on the functional level of cord injury and daily needs. The specific protocols for patients is highly dependent on the level of cord injury. However, the six major impairments that limit activities and participation in patients with spinal cord injury include:
- Motor skill
- Respiratory function
The physiotherapists involved in the care of spinal cord injured patients should have experience in cardiorespiratory rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation and musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Treatment is truly multi-modal and involvement of occupational therapists to optimize the home environment to match impairments is also critical.