A spine rehabilitation program is a crucial part of the long-term recovery from a spinal cord injury (SCI). The programs help people with an SCI tackle the physical challenges and learn ways to make their environment adapt to them.
The mental aspects of SCI cannot be overstated, and not addressing them will only complicate your recovery. It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions after a SCI, with some people experiencing depression, grief, or anger. Psychological interventions are designed to get your feelings out into the open so you can begin dealing with them. When the psychological aspects are neglected, it can make recovery harder and compromise your ability to adapt to changes in your physical functioning. Generally, support groups with others who have an SCI can boost morale and allow you to discuss issues in an environment where people can relate to your challenges. Family counseling may be needed since your support system will need to be involved in your rehabilitation.
In the earliest stages of an SCI, passive movements can keep your extremities limber and prevent unnecessary muscle atrophy that only hinders recovery and contributes to other complications. Movement, whether passive or active, may also facilitate nerve recovery. If your SCI was low on the spine and you still retain sensation and function of your arms, weight-bearing exercises for your upper-body will make it easier to maneuver a wheelchair and help yourself into the standing position. Aquatics can be a popular form of physical therapy, especially if passive movements are more easily done in the water. People with an SCI who gain more sensation and function may begin other, more challenging forms of physical therapy that involve standing and walking.
With improvements in technology comes a world of opportunities for people with SCIs to use technology to facilitate their recovery and to make their environment adapt to their needs. For example, computers and wireless devices can be connected to wheelchairs or scooters that allow the person to operate different devices in their home. Additionally, people who have other injuries in conjunction with their SCI, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that has affected speech can use devices that allow them to communicate. Adaptive technologies can include devices that help a person be more independent with their SCI, such as being able to drive without any assistance and returning to work.
After the acute phase of an SCI, rehabilitation is the most important part of recovering as much as possible and adapting to your changing needs. Spine rehabilitation programs offer many different services to address the physical, social, and psychological needs of their clients.