06 | Recovery After Traumatic SCI

Timely and Appropriate Interventions

General Introduction

With the sudden and unexpected nature of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), concerns and questions surrounding recovery are at the forefront of the minds of the person and all concerned with his or her well-being.1

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Beginning a Second Life

Mr. Seiler's Story

As I was tumbling down the mountainside, I thought to myself, ‘My God, when am I going to stop!’ I was totally conscious the whole time I was falling. When I came to a halt, I was freezing and shaking, and I couldn’t move my arms and legs. I was so very afraid. Like the old cliché goes  – I saw my life flash before my eyes. I continue to relive this experience over and over again!

Mr. Seiler

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Treatment at the rehabilitation unit began with the rehabilitation team’s assessment of Mr. Seiler's functioning. The 4-week assessment encompassed a battery of discipline-specific evaluations (health professional perspective) and also involved gathering information from Mr. Seiler himself (patient perspective).

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Goal-setting/Determination of Intervention Targets

With use of the ICF Categorical Profile Mr. Seiler's functioning status was discussed during a rehabilitation team meeting. An illustration of the assessment results, the ICF Categorical Profile shows the ICF qualifier rating of the categories that reflect the relevant aspects of functioning observed and evaluated during the assessment phase. Goals were set accordingly.

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Assignment and Intervention

Each of the intervention targets that were defined in the assessment phase of the Rehab-Cycle® was assigned to the appropriate rehabilitation team members  – physician, nurse, physical and occupational therapist.

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Four weeks after Mr. Seiler's traumatic accident, the early post-acute Rehab-Cycle® was concluded with an evaluation of progress. The encouraging results showed that Mr. Seiler’s recovery had surpassed his own expectations as well as those of the rehabilitation team.

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The case study of Mr. Seiler, who became tetraplegic after falling down a side of a mountain, exemplified that optimal recovery of persons with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) does not begin at the early post-acute rehabilitation phase but already at the time of the accident and extends through to acute care and beyond. Moreover, optimal recovery depends on the contributions of health professionals and the injured person alike.

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