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SCI: Pathophysiology, Management, & Assessment

presented by Anne Leclaire, RN, MSN, CRRN

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Anne Leclaire receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course. Non-Financial: Anne Leclaire has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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A spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating and challenging injuries that a person can face. This serious neurological trauma affects persons of any age and can be life changing. Medical professionals need to understand how spinal cord injuries occur as well as the potential physical effects and syndromes related to this neurological injury. Medical professionals play an integral role in improving patient outcomes by customizing interventions to address deficits and educating patients and families to understand the effects of this damage to the spinal cord itself. This course will review the etiology of a spinal cord injury, expected acute course, and prognosis.

Meet Your Instructor

Anne Leclaire, RN, MSN, CRRN

Anne graduated with a Master of Science-Nursing from the University of Phoenix and has worked in the field of rehabilitation nursing for most of her career. She started as a staff nurse in inpatient rehabilitation at Weldon Center for Rehabilitation in Springfield, Massachusetts and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Epidemiology and Incidence of SCI

This chapter will provide an orientation to spinal cord anatomy and discuss the epidemiology and demographics of spinal cord injuries. Understanding the anatomy and function of the spine and spinal cord will help rehabilitation nurses understand the changes caused by a spinal cord injury. The nurses can use this information to help educate patients and families on the significance of spinal cord injuries on the individual and society.

2. Etiology of Spinal Cord Injuries

This chapter will review the mechanisms that lead to spinal cord damage and review the physical and chemical changes that lead to permanent and irreparable damage to the spinal cord. Rehabilitation nurses need to understand how the spinal cord injured person’s functional and rehabilitation potential is linked to this etiology.

3. Initial Management of Spinal Cord Injury

Most people understand the terms tetraplegia and paraplegia, but are unaware of all the subtleties that contribute to the diagnosis. Understanding the terminology that explains the damage to the spinal cord will help the rehabilitation nurse identify the injured person’s deficits and assists in predicting functional recovery and rehabilitation.

4. Differentiating Spinal Cord Injuries

A number of spinal cord syndromes associated with a traumatic spinal cord injury have specific sensory or motor characteristics. This chapter describes the differentiating features of each of these syndromes so that rehabilitation nurses can craft specific nursing interventions to address these deficits.

5. Spinal Cord Syndromes

The clinical course of an acute spinal cord injury is complex and fraught with challenges. One key focus of this period is to prevent additional damage to the spinal cord by stabilizing the spine through surgical or non-surgical methods. Rehabilitation nurses must understand the rationale behind the fixation method chosen to provide appropriate nursing measures in caring for these individuals.

6. Assessment Tools

Assessment instruments are used throughout the continuum of spinal cord injury recovery. These tools provide an objective scale to assist caregivers in diagnosing the extent of the spinal cord damage and assist in identifying improvements in function. Rehabilitation nurses should be familiar with these tools and understand when and how they should be used.

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