Choosing Treatment After a Spinal Cord Injury
Picking an appropriate rehabilitation facility can greatly assist in a patient's return to daily life after a spinal cord injury. While some patients may be lucky enough to have cutting edge centers close to their homes, others may need to travel to find the best possible care available. Regardless of the location, it is important to consider the following factors when choosing where to undergo spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
Does the facility have experience with your particular diagnosis? As a general rule, facilities develop higher levels of expertise with practice. Researching the center's track record with your specific injury will help ensure you receive the best available care.
Is the place accredited? A facility that can boast accredited expertise with your specific injury is usually a better choice for a spinal cord injury victim than a general rehabilitation program. The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission spinal cord injury accreditation indicates that a facility meets a minimum offers exceptional rehabilitation programs specifically targeted towards the treatment of your injury.
Specialized Rehabilitation Staff
A good spinal cord injury rehabilitation center should have the following experts on staff:
- Physiatrist: A doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physiatrists can treat a wide range of problems, and help coordinate long-term rehabilitation for patients with spinal cord as well as other injuries. A true physiatrist has completed four years of graduate medical education as well as four years of postdoctoral residency training.
- Rehab Nurse: Nurses with special training in rehabilitative and restorative principles; these professionals are experts in bladder and bowel issues, nutrition, pain management, bed sore prevention, breathing care, self-empowerment, the coordination of medical regimens, and related issues. Their education includes, helping patients achieve independence and designing care plans to preserve the patient's overall wellbeing.
- Occupational Therapists: Occupational therapists (OTs) help individuals perform the daily functions needed for independence. OTs can help patients learn to bathe, dress, make a meal, clean, or even participate in a favorite hobby. OTs also evaluate environments outside of the rehab facility, making recommendations for changes that will help patients navigate these areas.
- Physical Therapists: Physical therapists (PTs) treat motor and sensory impairments. They help patients improve their strength, endurance and coordination, while working to reduce spasticity, maintain the muscle integrity in paralyzed limbs, protect skin from pressure sores and gain greater control over elimination. PTs also work with paralyzed people to help them use assistive devices like wheelchairs, canes or braces.
Other staff members that indicate a top-notch facility:
- Recreation therapists to help restore quality and enjoyment of life
- Vocational therapists to help patients return to their previous jobs or find new ones
- Motility experts to help people select the best wheelchair or other mobility assistant
- Psychologists to help patients adjust to the realities of post-injury life
- Sex and family counselors to help patients understand what options are still available to them
Working with a Lawyer to Get Treatment
Anyone who has personally sustained a spinal cord injury, or who is helping a loved one recover from this type of trauma, must face many difficult choices during an extremely tumultuous time. Patients and family members must often make quick medical decisions that will affect the injured person's long-term prognosis, even as they struggle to accept the reality of the situation.
When a spinal cord injury is the result of another person's negligence, it is vitally important to hire a lawyer with a track record of winning these type of cases. It is important to have a lawyer that can help make sure that the injured person receives the top medical care and hold the responsible people accountable.
During such difficult times, consulting with a top-ranked attorney can help the victim's family make the choices that will result in that individual receiving the best available care. Attorneys who represent paralysis victims are aware of experimental procedures and top tier care facilities that victims and families may not know about. They also act as advocates for victims, dismissing pressure from outside parties to choose less effective care options. A good attorney will deal with any legal or insurance related problems, allowing the victims and their families to focus on rehabilitation and recovery.
It is particularly important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after sustaining a spinal cord injury, as many of the medical decisions must be made within the first few hours following an accident. At Arnold & Itkin, our personal injury attorneys have won millions of dollars for paralysis victims, helping them receive the best available care to ensure optimal quality of life in the wake of a devastating injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal injury, our team can help. Contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.