The Importance of Physiotherapy in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries
A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) may be defined as damage to any part of the spinal column which very often results in permanent changes in sensations, strength and body functions below the site of the injury. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the world have some form of SCI today.
A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) represents a dramatic change in one’s life. The sudden loss of mobility is also accompanied by other functional impairments including incontinence and pain.
SCIs are mainly the result of physical trauma. Such injuries may be caused by motor vehicle accidents, physical assaults, and industrial accidents, or may be sport-related among other causes. A smaller proportion of SCIs are the result of diseases such as Arthritis, Cancer, Osteoporosis and inflammation of the spinal cord.
Treatments for SCI have traditionally focused on easing the patient back into society, through acceptance of their new circumstances and alleviation of the more severe symptoms.
To regain mobility (to move on one’s own accord, unaided) remains the primary concern of SCI patients. Through the use of an Epidural Stimulation device this desire can now be translated into reality. The device is surgically implanted over the spinal cord connecting it to the body’s nerve systems. While switched on, this device imitates nerve signals that the brain would normally send out. This device is controlled remotely by the SCI patient. After intensive training the patient becomes quite proficient in moving his or her limbs and regains a measure of independence, which was unheard earlier for people living with SCIs.
The Importance of Physiotherapy
It is important to note, however, that while ‘hard science’ may provide a technical solution to a problem, supportive therapies play a critical role in the progressive healing of a patient. For SCI patients, Physiotherapy is crucial to this process. Physiotherapy is necessary to prevent the weakening and possible wasting of muscles. Perhaps what is not generally known is that Physiotherapy is also an important driver in the attainment of a higher Quality Of Life (QoL) for the patient. Although the interpretation of what QoL represents will differ from person to person, the feeling generated by the state of enhanced well-being is unambiguous.
Data acquired from health-related facilities in Germany show a clear correlation between the QoL of SCI patients and Physical Exercise (PE). A clear inference of these results is that Physiotherapy (or PE) is the principal determinant of QoL. SCI patients who engaged in sports were found to enjoy a higher employment rate than their physically inactive counterparts. Beyond improving physical and coordinative skills, Physiotherapy was also shown to be a critical ingredient in ‘resetting’ the psychological equilibrium that is negatively affected in anyone living with acquired SCI.
Unique Access Medical’s Epidural Stimulation procedure , embodies the latest in scientific advances and recognises the importance of Physiotherapy in the treatment of SCI patients. It is one of the supportive therapies that is crucial in ensuring that an SCI patient derives maximum benefits by the use of the Epidural Stimulation device. Since the primary function of the device is to aid the patient to regain control of limb movements, Physiotherapy is an essential part of the treatment. The Epidural Stimulation device has a secondary role in that it can help improve cardiovascular and autonomic nervous functions that were affected by the injury. Physiotherapy will therefore, not only help one with the physical aspects of the injury but will also play a key role in how one responds to challenges and it is an important component in elevating one’s quality of life.
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