05 | SCI in Older Persons

Aging with SCI

General Introduction

More and more spinal cord injuries (SCI) are occuring in older persons. With the effectiveness of SCI interventions, the increased utilisation of preventative care and specialised treatment centres and people living longer in general, the life expectancy of persons with SCI has increased dramatically over the past decades.

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Mr. Meier's Story

I felt relatively healthy before the aneurysm and the spinal cord injury. I didn’t have any sense of a problem that would require an operation, so I was quite surprised when it came up. There was no discomfort; I wasn’t disabled. I did get a little tired while working. Of course, I thought this was just my age.

Mr. Meier

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The Rehab-Cycle® of Mr. Meier began in July 2007 with an assessment of functioning from both a health professional perspective as well as Mr. Meier’s own perceptions and experiences.

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Goal-setting/Determination of Intervention Targets

Based on the assessment results an ICF Categorical Profile of Mr. Meier's functioning status was created. See table 2. An ICF Categorical Profile is a visual display of ICF categories that reflect these assessment results as well as the goals i.e. global goal, service-program goal and three cycle goals, that Mr. Meier and his rehabilitation team mutually agreed upon.

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Assignment and Intervention

Mr. Meier’s rehabilitation team included his physician, a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist and social worker. Each team member was assigned to corresponding intervention targets that had been determined during the assessment phase.

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I didn’t achieve as much as I wanted to. I still can’t walk!

Mr. Meier at the end of his Rehab-Cycle®

Despite the complications that arose, Mr. Meier was able to make progress in his Rehab-Cycle®, achieving two of his three cycle goals: mobility and general health status. This was clearly seen during the evaluation phase.

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) has a devastating and traumatic impact on all those it affects. An older person with SCI can present unique challenges within a rehabilitation setting. These persons bring a variety of age-related problems as well as resources that can greatly influence the rehabilitation process. Mr. Meier’s case is a good illustration of rehabilitation in older persons with SCI.

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