Paralysis can be a traumatic consequence of many serious accidents if the victim suffers a spinal cord injury or a brain injury that affects the part of his brain controlling his limbs. After a person’s initial treatment in the hospital, he will most likely need to go to a rehabilitation center before returning home. Finding a quality rehabilitation center can affect the person’s rate of recovery, his ability to reintegrate into his life and society and his long-term outcome.
Three Steps to Picking a Quality Rehabilitation Center
The paralysis victim may not be well enough to arrange his rehabilitation, and his family may need to do this for him. Key considerations in choosing a facility include:
Check out the staff.
The lead doctor should have experience caring for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries and should specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The other staff should also specialize in this care. Find out the doctor’s credentials, whether there is round-the-clock doctor care, and who will coordinate the person’s treatment and act as a contact person for the patient and his family.
Further, there are six professionals a paralysis victim will want on his team. Ensure your facility employs each of these:
This is a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. He can coordinate the medical care and rehabilitation therapies for a person who has suffered a spinal cord injury and paralysis.
These nurses received special training in rehabilitative and restorative principles and work collaboratively with the rest of the team assisting a paralysis victim to manage his medical issues—some complex. A rehab nurse is an expert in bladder, bowel, nutrition, skin, pain management, and self-care issues. She will provide support and education to the victim’s family and can provide assistance once the person returns to home, work, or school.
An occupational therapist can help the person relearn his day-to-day activities so he can be as independent as possible. He will help the person with dressing, bathing, preparing meals, and provide training in the use of assistive tools to help replace lost functions. He can also evaluate the person’s work and home environments and make recommendations on adaptations.
A physical therapist can help a person increase his strength, endurance, and coordination, maintain muscles in paralyzed limbs, and gain bladder and bowel control. He can also teach the person how to use adaptive tools, such as wheelchairs and braces.
This person can help the person discover recreational opportunities in his community that he could take advantage of to improve his quality of life.
Inspect the facility.
The center should be accredited with the Commission of the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities or the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It is best if the facility has patients in the same age group and with similar injuries as the accident victim. Look to see if the center has resources to help the patient learn independent living skills, such as a laundry room, kitchen, and recreational facilities.
Study program elements.
Basic elements of a good program will include at least three hours of treatment per day, round-the-clock rehabilitation nursing and respiratory care, and special programs such as drivers education and therapeutic recreation. It should also provide a full schedule of evening and weekend activities for patients and programs to include the family in the accident victim’s recovery.
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