SPINAL CORD INJURY (SCI)

About the Condition

Spinal cord injuries occur when the vertebrae protecting the spinal cord are broken or displaced, thus affecting the nerves within it.

They can occur due to compressing the spine, stretching the spine too much or tearing the spinal cord, either by a foreign object or the adjacent bone.

When this happens, it leads to the loss of sensation in parts of the body or, a diminished ability to move muscles or at the very worst, paraplegia(i) or quadriplegia(ii).

(i) Paralysis of both legs and sometimes part of the torso due to injury in the lower section on the spinal cord.
(ii) Paralysis of the torso and arms and legs due to injury to the lower neck region of the spinal cord.

Symptoms

  • Weakness.
  • Loss of sensation at and below the point of injury.
  • Paraplegia.
  • May also include impaired or loss of bladder function.
  • Quadriplegia.

Useful Tips for Patients & Caregivers

Remember that this is a huge adjustment for everyone involved.  Grieving is a natural process so the patient and caregiver both should allow time to go through it.  Find ways to be independent.  Work with occupational and physical therapists to find your strengths and learn ways to be independent in your new lifestyle.  Express your thoughts and emotions.  It is ok to be angry and to express that.  Make your friends and family aware of what you are feeling so they can help you, and don’t be ashamed of doing so.

The following tips may help too:

  • Set new life goals and maintain control of your life and what you want to accomplish.
  • Find ways to enjoy things that you loved before the injury.
  • Look for new hobbies and activities to experience.
  • Alter your home to accommodate wheelchairs.
  • Make objects of daily use easily accessible.
  • Make sure the person is sleeping comfortably, even if at irregular hours of the day.

Selecting the Right Chair

It is very important that the chair is adjustable to allow it to meet the changing needs of the person as their condition changes.  Cognitive changes may reduce the patient’s ability to ‘learn’ new products and operations and so having a chair that will easily adjust and which you can add accessories to as needed will ensure continuity and familiarity.

The Sorrento™ and Phoenix™ in particular are designed to suit the needs of those suffering from a spinal cord injury, and these are also available as part of our Kidz Range, as well as for adults. These two Seating Matters chairs are highly adjustable and all accessories can be included at a later date if they are not needed at the initial assessment.  This allows the chair to meet changing needs over a long period of time.

Depending on the severity of the injury, Sorrento and Phoenix can provide the exact amount of support a person needs.  If the individual is getting better, it is possible to create less support with the Sorrento and Phoenix, while if the patient’s injury causes an overall deterioration in their health, both have the capability of providing as much support as possible, from the patient’s head to their feet.

Both the Sorrento and Phoenix come in manual and powered options.  Manual adjustment leaves the control of the seating positions to the caregiver. Partially motorized options give the user of the chair more independent control to change the angle of tilt in space and their leg elevation as and when desired.  Fully motorized options give the user of the chair control to change the angle of tilt in space, their leg elevation and the back angle recline as and when desired.

Bear in mind, each person is different and so you must use clinical judgement, knowledge of the patient, environmental considerations and personal preferences before deciding on which Seating Matters chair to use.