Spinal Injury Rehabilitation

At Inspire Neurocare, our highly experienced teams provide life-changing spinal cord injury rehabilitation services for adults.

Every injury is different, and so people have different goals. Inspire Neurocare's spinal cord injury rehabilitation centre take an interdisciplinary approach to ensure that rehab is developed around the individual.

For people who have experienced spinal injuries, there is often a significant adjustment to the life-changing impact of becoming a wheelchair user. Many people live with pain and fatigue and may experience other physical complications such as:

  • changes to sexual function
  • bladder issues such as urinary tract infections
  • bowel issues, depending on the level of injury
  • pressure sores
  • sensory loss

The aim of the rehabilitation process is to help people achieve the highest level of independence and quality of life possible, by improving or restoring their abilities and supporting them to compensate for functional disabilities.

For some people, spinal cord injury treatment is not only focused on physical recovery but also encompasses support from neuropsychologists and psychiatrists to come to terms with a different way of life.

Understanding spinal injury

Every year in England, 2,500 people experience life-changing spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury can result from a traumatic injury that dislocates or damages the vertebrae.

Following the acute care and initial treatment, and often a stay in an intensive care unit, people with spinal injuries undergo intensive rehab in a specialist spinal injury facility, such as the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Oswestry.

Spinal injuries can be classified as either complete or incomplete injuries and can lead to damage to nerve fibres and to the peripheral nerves.

  • An incomplete spinal cord injury involves partial damage, allowing some functional ability to remain below the injury level.
  • Complete injuries result from significant damage causing a total loss of the spinal cord's ability to relay messages to or from the brain below the injury's neurological level. A complete injury usually results in complete loss of sensory and motor function, leading to paralysis, such as complete paraplegia or quadriplegia.

Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Traumatic spinal injuries result from sudden, forceful damage to the spine and can be a complete or incomplete injury. These injuries often occur due to incidents like motor vehicle accidents, falls, or sports injuries. Depending on the location and severity, these injuries can lead to varying degrees of temporary or permanent loss of sensation, movement, or function below the level of injury.

Non-Traumatic Spinal Injuries

Non-traumatic spinal injuries describe damage that's not related to sudden, physical harm. Some people experience spinal cord injury following a tumour or as a result of transverse myelitis, or infections affecting the spine.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome describes a spinal cord injury caused by severe compression of the nerves at the end of the spinal cord (cauda equina).

Symptoms can include lower back pain, loss of bowel and bladder control, and lower body weakness.

Spinal rehabilitation: FAQs

Spinal rehabilitation is a complex but life-changing process. Please scroll to the end of this page for frequently asked questions designed to support your understanding of this process and access further information.

Expert spinal injury rehabilitation services

Following hospital care, some individuals may require only outpatient rehabilitation or vocational rehabilitation to support a return to work. For many, the next step is longer-term spinal cord injury rehabilitation in a community-based, home-from-home environment, focusing on functional independence, an area in which Inspire Neurocare excels.

At Inspire Neurocare, our team of Life Skills Facilitators collaborate with a multidisciplinary therapeutic team and skilled nurses. The rehabilitation team offer an array of services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, cognitive support, psychological assistance, and management of medication.

All treatments are personalised to meet the unique requirements of each individual, with the primary aim of enabling them to recover the maximum possible level of independence.

Specialist nursing for spinal cord injury

Our specialist rehabilitation nurses deliver expert, compassionate care for individuals undergoing spinal rehabilitation, bringing a depth of knowledge and experience to manage the complex needs and secondary complications of individuals who have sustained a spinal cord injury.

They work as part of a multi disciplinary team team and their range from managing physical health needs and injuries including skin integrity and pressure care (sores and pressure ulcers), blood pressure and bladder and bowel function, to administering medications and pain management strategies. They are skilled in managing the respiratory function requirements that may occur in higher level injuries.

Consultant-led care

Each service at Inspire Neurocare is guided by a rehabilitation physician with in-depth knowledge and experience in neurorehabilitation. Their role is pivotal in directing the rehabilitation team and supervising personalised care plans for each patient.

At Inspire Neurocare's spinal services, our Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine leads the interdisciplinary team.

Physiotherapy for spinal cord injury

Our physiotherapy teams work with individuals to restore as much mobility as possible following injury to the spinal cord. Physiotherapy treatments include exercises designed to:

  • build muscle strength and muscle function
  • to increase joint mobility with walking aids
  • improve balance using standing frames, bikes, and the tilt table

Physical therapy supports people with spinal injuries in transferring in and out of a wheelchair and assists in gait training using parallel bars, crucial aspects of regaining independence and functionality.

Occupational Therapy for spinal cord injury 

The occupational therapist aims to increase people's independence in activities of daily living, ensuring people with spinal cord injuries can function in their environment with adaptations where required.

As the patient's condition improves, occupational therapy functional activities might include:

  • assistive devices
  • planning adaptive equipment requirements
  • managing wheelchairs and walking aids in the community
  • developing the skills to enjoy leisure activities and community participation
  • positioning for bed or seating

Speech therapy for spinal cord injury

If the spinal cord injury is high in the cervical spine (neck), it may affect the nerves that control breathing and speech.

People with a cervical spinal cord injury may benefit from speech and language therapy to assist with breathing exercises, speech, and swallowing.

Psychology for spinal cord injury

At Inspire Neurocare, our neuropsychologists provide key psychological support for individuals on a recovery journey. They aid in managing emotional distress and behavioural changes, including anxiety, depression, and disturbances often resulting injuries to the brain and spine.

Using therapeutic interventions, emotional support, coping strategies, and cognitive rehabilitation techniques, they help improve individuals' psychological well-being, self esteem and resilience.

Make a referral or access support

Contact the Inspire Neurocare team for more information on SCI rehabilitation and respite care or access information on our Admissions and Referral process. Every Inspire Neurocare service is full accessible for wheelchair users. 

The Spinal Injuries Association is a valuable UK-wide resource for patients and families.

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QUESTIONS ABOUT CARE

What is residential inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation?

Inspire Neurocare's residential spinal injuries unit offers a specialised environment for around-the-clock care and rehabilitation for individuals who have suffered complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries. It comprises a dedicated team of carers, doctors, nurses and therapists.

What kind of outcomes can be expected during spinal cord injury rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation outcomes are generally linked to individual goals, the severity of the injury, and the person's overall health. Spinal cord injured patients may see improvements in physical mobility and independence to enhanced emotional well-being.

At Inspire Neurocare, these outcomes, which make up the rehabilitation programme, are continuously measured against established goals.

How long does spinal cord injury rehabilitation usually take?

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation can vary significantly in length, depending on several factors including the severity of the injury, the individual's overall health, and their specific recovery goals. Rehabilitation is often a long-term process, requiring several months to years of multidisciplinary intervention. Some people with spinal cord injuries may make significant progress in a few months, while others may require intensive rehabilitation over several years.

At Inspire Neurocare, our team works closely with patients, their families, and referral sources to provide personalised estimates of rehabilitation length based on individual assessments, which are continually reviewed and adjusted as needed.

It's important to note that every individual's recovery journey from spinal cord injury is unique, and the timeline for rehabilitation can differ greatly from person to person.

How does Inspire Neurocare support the families of those going through spinal cord injury recovery?

Inspire supports family members throughout the recovery process. Recovery from spinal cord injuries can be complex and in the early stages, secondary conditions can cause complications and different symptoms may be experienced. Our Wellbeing and Lifestyle Coach ensures loved ones are kept informed about progress, recovery, and discharge planning.

What is the referral process at Inspire Neurocare?

The referral process usually begins with a referral from a doctor or funding body, usually while the individual is in the hospital or spinal cord injury unit. The Inspire team visits to assess the individual, creating a report detailing the rehabilitation pathway and care we can provide.

From this point, the referrer and family will review the assessment report, and if it is decided that Inspire Neurocare is the right place for rehabilitation, the team will work with all those concerned to begin the admission process.

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