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How soon after a spinal cord injury should occupational therapy begin?

How soon after a spinal cord injury should occupational therapy begin?

Anne Bryden, OT

Occupational Therapist/Research Manager, Case Western University, Cleveland

Read Bio More Videos by Anne Bryden
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I think occupational therapy, especially in cases of spinal cord injury, should begin immediately. It’s important to have input even in the intensive care unit because there are lots of things that can happen as you’re healing.  In the intensive... Show More

I think occupational therapy, especially in cases of spinal cord injury, should begin immediately. It’s important to have input even in the intensive care unit because there are lots of things that can happen as you’re healing.  In the intensive care unit, the goal is for people to survive, to live, but there are also issues with your skin, with perhaps in the positioning of your arms and your hands. And, if you’re in the ICU a long time, it’s important to have occupational therapy there making sure that certain things are preserved so that you don’t develop contractures, or pressure ulcers, or any other of a number of things that can go wrong. A contracture happens—it’s a tightening of muscles and joints, and the primary cause is because people have lost motion in that joint. There are other more complicated reasons for why those contractures happen. If you can’t move the joint yourself, it’s very important to have someone do that for you, or have your occupational therapist teach you ways that you can still do passive range of motion to those joints on your own to prevent that tightening. It’s very functionally limiting. 

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How soon after a spinal cord injury should occupational therapy begin?

Anne Bryden, OT

Occupational Therapist/Research Manager, Case Western University, Cleveland

More Videos by Anne Bryden
Transcriptadd

I think occupational therapy, especially in cases of spinal cord injury, should begin immediately. It’s important to have input even in the intensive care unit because there are lots of things that can happen as you’re healing.  In the intensive care unit, the goal is for people to survive, to live, but there are also issues with your skin, with perhaps in the positioning of your arms and your hands. And, if you’re in the ICU a long time, it’s important to have occupational therapy there making sure that certain things are preserved so that you don’t develop contractures, or pressure ulcers, or any other of a number of things that can go wrong. A contracture happens—it’s a tightening of muscles and joints, and the primary cause is because people have lost motion in that joint. There are other more complicated reasons for why those contractures happen. If you can’t move the joint yourself, it’s very important to have someone do that for you, or have your occupational therapist teach you ways that you can still do passive range of motion to those joints on your own to prevent that tightening. It’s very functionally limiting. 

How soon after a spinal cord injury should occupational therapy begin?
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