Since we’re at the American Physical Therapy Association conference this week, I thought it was the perfect time to share some great information on the importance of physical therapy after spinal cord injuries. We’re thrilled to welcome Matt Anton as a guest blogger!
When you are treating a person who has suffered a spinal cord injury, the biggest focus is on regaining function and independence so that patients can be active, healthy and happy, despite the challenges they face. Among clinicians, it’s widely accepted that the best results come from using a variety of treatment methods and that the more you put into your rehab, the more you get out!
What Happens After A Spinal Injury
When you suffer a spinal injury, you need to allow enough time for the injured muscles and the bones to heal. This is why there is usually a phase of immobilization that allows the bones and the muscles to repair themselves. While this is going on, your doctors usually prescribe medication which will encourage faster healing as well as provide nutritional supplements like vitamins and minerals to speed up the healing process.
Rehabilitation After Injury
When the rehabilitation process starts, physical therapists along with occupational therapists, health care professionals and psychologists work as a team under the coordination of a specialist who will set goals for the patient’s recovery and develop a plan for the patient’s discharge. In the acute care phase the physical therapists usually focus on the respiratory status of the patient. They do this in order to prevent indirect complications as well as maintain a range of motion activities and keep the muscles active.
Complexity Of Neurological Impairment
When spinal injuries occur, there are often neurological impairments and/or damages involved. The level of impairment differs in different cases. The higher up the spine the injury occurs, the greater the challenges. Often the level of neurological impairment is such that some of the ventilator muscles are impaired and that puts more stress on muscles that are unaffected. Most spinal injury patients suffer from reduced lung capacity as well as reduced tidal volume. Thus, the therapists at such a stage teach the patients accessory breathing methods and techniques.
Method Of Physical Therapies
Physical therapists may also assist such patients in learning how to cough as well as clearing the secretions that come up the throat. The stretching of the thoracic wall is done in a way that is taught to such impaired patients. Many of these patients are provided abdominal support belt as it becomes necessary. The amount of the time that a patient remains in an immobilized condition depends on the spinal cord injuries that they sustain. Physical therapists need to work with such patients in order to prevent any complications that may arise due to such immobilized state. Other complications that arise from immobilization are osteoporosis and muscle atrophy. That, in turn, increases the risk of fractures of the femur and the tibia.
Importance Of Physical Rehabilitation
To prevent such conditions during the immobilization period, there are many kinds of electrical stimulation techniques that are used in order to achieve effective results. The intensity and the frequency as well as the duration of the stress that is given to the bones is decided by the therapist. Thus, physical therapy for spinal injury patients is essential. Even though they are painful at certain stages especially during the phase of immobilization, one needs to keep up such therapies in order to reduce the risk of related damages to other areas of the body.
Getting Out of the Hospital
Rehabilitation therapy involves relearning old skills and developing new ones. Patients will learn to use new equipment including wheelchairs, transfer benches and shower chairs. This may also include special equipment for bladder or bowel management. During this learning phase it is critical to set goals for yourself and your recovery that allow you to work toward resuming your previous lifestyle and getting back to the routines and activities you enjoyed prior to your injury.
Author Bio: Matt Anton is an author who contributes articles on different healthcare forums. He also writes articles on a variety financial matters. For more articles from Matt, check out: http://paymentsavvy.com.
Are you a blogger looking for opportunities to share your work? Men’s Liberty is looking for guest bloggers to provide great new content featuring spinal cord injuries, incontinence and your personal stories. We’d love to feature you! If interested, email: Swoodward@mensliberty.com
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