A good rehabilitation center should offer the survivor of a spinal cord injury a combination of specialized medical care needed to return to the highest level of function, and the inspiration and strength needed to cope with debilitating injuries. Rehabilitation centers should provide the following services:
- Long-term rehabilitative care
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Recreational therapy
In a good rehabilitation program, patients will send several hours each day—but at least three—learning everyday life skills, from how to feed themselves to how to dress, from how to engage in relationships to how to re-enter the workforce.
Facilities and Staff
As independence is a goal of rehabilitation, most rehabilitation units have special facilities designed to help the patient learn individual living skills. A good rehabilitation unit will have kitchen and laundry facilities to promote the relearning of everyday activities, as well as recreational facilities and a qualified staff that will begin to reintroduce the concepts of fun and fulfillment. A good rehabilitation program will not only help survivors relearn the basic skills of everyday life, it will also help survivors cope with the complications of their condition, such as bowel, bladder, or skin problems, that may require special care.
The key to ensuring that a rehabilitation center fits the needs of the patient is to assess its elements. Basic elements that any good rehabilitation center include:
- A physician in charge who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation
- Physician coverage seven days a week, 24 hours a day
- A support staff that is specifically trained in spinal cord injuries
- The availability or rehabilitation nursing and respiratory care on a 24 hour basis
- Treatments for at least three hours per day
- Specialties offered such as driver education, rehabilitation engineering, and therapeutic recreation
- A full roster of weekend and evening activities for residents
- Programs that include family and loved ones in the care and rehabilitation of the survivor
Asking the Right Questions
When determining which rehabilitation center is right for the survivor, it’s important to ask lots of questions. Making a list of these questions before visiting potential facilities will ensure you choose the right facility.
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