Rehabilitation Nursing for Spinal Cord Injury

presented by Cheryl Lehman

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This course is part of our CRRN® Prep-Program. Learn more about the full prep-program here: MedBridge CRRN® Prep-Program.

The person with spinal cord injury presents a unique challenge in the rehabilitation setting. Rehabilitation goals and interventions will depend upon the age of the person, the level of the injury, and the completeness of the injury. The rehabilitation team must focus on the biopsychosocial aspects of the person with a new SCI in order to ensure optimal outcomes. This course presents an overview of spinal cord injury rehabilitation, beginning with the changes in physiology, and including information on key assessment parameters, rehabilitation nursing interventions, ideal educational objectives, and anticipated functional outcomes depending upon the level and completeness of the injury.

CRRN® is a registered trademark of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Cheryl Lehman, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, CRRN

    Dr. Cheryl Lehman has been a registered nurse since graduating from the Decatur Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1978. Since that time, she earned a BSN from Maryville University-St. Louis in 1990; an MSN in Adult Health Nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston in the Clinical Nurse Specialist role in 1994; and a PhD in Preventive Medicine and Community Health with a focus in Rehabilitation Science in 2005, also from UTMB. Dr. Lehman is board-certified in rehabilitation nursing (CRRN); gerontological nursing (RN-BC); and in the CNS role (CNS-BC). Dr. Lehman’s clinical nursing experience includes medical surgical, geriatric, and rehabilitation nursing in the roles of staff nurse, nursing educator, and clinical nurse specialist. She has worked in the rehabilitation nursing field since 1987. She is a past-president of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, and the Editor and a co-author for the 7th edition of The Specialty Practice of Rehabilitation Nursing: A Core Curriculum. Dr. Lehman’s articles and chapters on rehabilitation and gerontological topics have also been widely published in national journals and textbooks. Dr. Lehman retired in 2014 at the rank of Clinical Professor from the University of Texas system after 24 years of service. She worked in the clinical setting at UTMB for 17 years, and her most recent service was in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, where she worked for 7 years in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Dr. Lehman currently serves as a nursing consultant in educational and legal endeavors.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. The Numbers

    1. The Numbers

    This chapter introduces the history of spinal cord injury rehabilitation in the United States. The statistics related to SCI will be addressed, including demographics, causes, levels of injury, recovery, and causes of morbidity and mortality.

  2. Background

    2. Background

    This chapter provides a quick review of the anatomy of the spinal column, spinal cord, and spinal nerves. The dermatome chart will be introduced and modes of injury will be examined. Complete and incomplete injuries will be compared. There will be a brief review of spinal cord syndromes. The purpose and use of the Asia scale will be discussed. The potential impairments at each level of injury will be considered.

  3. The Effect on Body Systems

    3. The Effect on Body Systems

    This chapter examines the biological changes that a person experiences due to a spinal cord injury. In particular, it will focus on the respiratory, cardiac, vascular, and temperature control changes following spinal cord injury. The influence of SCI on each system will be discussed, along with assessment parameters and interventions. The effects of age, level of injury, and completeness of injury will be addressed.

  4. The Effect on Bladder and Bowel

    4. The Effect on Bladder and Bowel

    This chapter examines the biological changes that a person experiences due to a spinal cord injury. Specifically, it will focus on the urinary, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and integumentary systems. The influence of SCI on each system will be discussed, along with assessment parameters and interventions. The effects of age, level of injury, and completeness of injury will be addressed. Autonomic dysreflexia will be reviewed.

  5. The Effect on Psychological Health and Social Systems

    5. The Effect on Psychological Health and Social Systems

    This chapter examines the psychological and sociological changes that a person may experience due to a spinal cord injury. The effects of age, level of injury, and completeness of injury will be addressed. Reproductive systems will be included, as they affect psychological health. The challenges of discharge planning will be discussed.