Provincial Network Goes National, to Improve Care for All Spinal Cord Injury Patients – Regardless of Where They Live

The National expansion is funded by Praxis Spinal Cord Institute.

The Ontario network of spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation sites and patient partners, committed to raising the standard of SCI rehabilitation care, is expanding across Canada, to ensure equitable, optimal care for all patients, regardless of where they live. Included in the network areas are tertiary rehabilitation hospitals from Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI covering four provinces in Canada.

The network is called the Spinal Cord Injury Implementation & Evaluation Quality Care Consortium (SCI IEQCC).

Focusing on six areas of care, prioritized by importance and urgency, the network aims to influence a person’s long-term recovery, health, and well-being. Just one year into implementing rapid quality improvement initiatives and measuring the outcomes, the network has already seen an increase in engagement and improvement in practice across participating sites.

The intent is to follow people living with an SCI for 18 months from the time they begin rehabilitation to ensure the care they receive as patients set them up for long-term success in the community. The ultimate goal is to use this information to establish best practices in SCI rehabilitation, which all sites in Canada will be benchmarked against.

“Praxis is very pleased to support five SCI rehabilitation hospitals in these four provinces to join the Spinal Cord Injury Implementation & Evaluation Quality Care Consortium, as it aligns perfectly with the goals of Praxis’ Care Program, which is to achieve evidence-informed equitable care for Canadians who sustain a spinal cord injury,” Vanessa Noonan, Director of Research & Best Practice Implementation, Praxis Spinal Cord Institute.

The Future of SCI Care in Canada

Establishing best practices within each area below will ensure equitable and optimal care for Canadians.

  • Walking – Ensure those who have the potential to walk are getting the intensity of therapy needed to maximize the recovery of walking.
  • Wheeled Mobility – Maximize community wheelchair skills through standard mobility assessments.
  • Emotional Well-Being – Improve screening and management of depression and anxiety, to maximize rehabilitation outcomes.
  • Sexual Health – Create a permissive environment for clinicians and patients to have open discussions around sexual health inquiry.
  • Tissue Integrity – Reduce incidence and severity of pressure injuries (from wheelchairs and beds) across a person’s lifespan.
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – Reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for Urinary Tract Infections.

Best Practices in Action – One Patient’s Story

Read Shannon’s experience at the Toronto Rehab’s Brain and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation program at the Lyndhurst Centre and her concerns regarding sexual health after SCI.

When Shannon Purves was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, following a motor vehicle accident, there were only two questions on her mind.

“All I wanted to know was if I would walk again, and if I’d be able to have kids one day – but I wasn’t sure when or how I’d get the second question answered,” says the 31-year-old.

To her surprise – and great relief – sexual health was one of the first topics introduced to her, when she was transferred to Toronto Rehab’s Brain and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program at Lyndhurst Centre. Building on the work of the Spinal Cord Injury Implementation & Evaluation Quality Care Consortium, the topic of sexual health has been added to all Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment forms. That means every patient admitted to Lyndhurst is automatically asked if they would like to speak to a care team member about sexual health. It also means that every patient knows that Lyndhurst offers a safe and permissive environment to do so.

Just one week later, Shannon joined a sexual health information session for women – a regular group session led by a Patient & Family Educator – and soon after, a one-on-one appointment was booked.

“They reassured me that, although my body may work differently now, I’m still the same amazing, beautiful person I was before – and that really stuck with me,” says Shannon.

Through group sessions, one-on-one appointments, and educational materials and resources, Shannon feels like she was given all the information she needed. And with so many unknowns still ahead of her, she gains comfort in knowing that, upon discharge, sexual health won’t be one of them.

“It has definitely increased my confidence, to know my questions have been answered, and that I’m as prepared as I can be – and that if I have any more questions, the team at Lyndhurst will be here to help.”

Get involved in the story – “Enhancing Care for Spinal Cord Injury Patients Everywhere.”

The SCI IEQCC was funded by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.
The National expansion is proudly funded by Praxis Spinal Cord Institute.

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