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by Alicia Lam Taracido
A spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating events that could change your life. A catastrophic event like a spinal cord injury can result in severe neurological, motor, and sensory impairments. Every year, thousands of people suffer from accidents and degenerative diseases which result in either an injury to their spines or a decrease in spinal cord function.
Spinal cord injury is known as one of the most crippling orthopedic injuries. People who have faced this know that the only way to prolong their survival is rehabilitation of their injuries. Rehabilitation is taking on an increasingly important role in today’s medicine. The process involves three primary goals: prevent secondary complications, maximize physical function, and most importantly, reintegrate the individual into the community.
Following a spinal cord injury, rehabilitation is most effective when it is undertaken by a multidisciplinary, team-based approach. The rehabilitation team typically includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation nurses and doctors, psychologists, and in some cases, social workers and case managers. Their involvement is as follows:
What is the role of an occupational therapist after a spinal cord injury?
Occupational therapy practitioners help people who have suffered a spinal cord injury to return to their regular lives. They believe that every individual has the need and right to take part in meaningful activities and productivity.
They are skilled professionals who have the education and knowledge to set collaborative goals and facilitate achievements regarding physical, occupational, psychosocial, and contextual factors that inhibit occupational performance. They are experts who can analyze activities and tasks that can help individuals develop the right skills required to achieve their goals.
Occupational therapy practitioners are integral members of the health care team who guide and help individuals with spinal cord injuries return to their regular lives and their communities and eventually engage in meaningful occupations.
Here is a detailed description of the role of an occupational therapist in the rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injury:
For someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury, rehabilitation begins from the intensive care unit and stretches through their stay in the hospital and sometimes even after they are discharged. Occupational therapists provide continued services for these individuals, helping them recover, heal, and adjust to their injury. They specialize in helping individuals explore and adopt techniques that can make their lives easier and finally engage in worthwhile occupations.
Living with a spinal cord injury is a lifelong commitment for most people, and occupational therapists make sure that this journey is as trouble-free and comfortable as possible.