The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program

Program Lead: Dr. Denise Hill

The Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation Program provides tertiary inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services to persons with traumatic and non-traumatic SCI for Southern Alberta and Southeastern British Columbia. 

The outpatient rehabilitation SCI clinic offers consultation services for people with spinal cord injuries.  This clinic held 448 physician-patient visits, 118 physician-patient phone call followups, 125 nurse or nurse practitioner visits, and 93 nurse or nurse practitioner phone call followup visits (for a total of 566 patient encounters) between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.  Sixty-seven patients were admitted for acute inpatient rehabilitation on Unit 58.

Highlights 

Planning for a Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) SCI symposium got underway this year. The design of the symposium aims to foster networking among acute care and tertiary neurorehab staff and to provide education pertaining to care of the person with SCI across the continuum. 

The Spinal Cord Injury registry—which was originally funded by Brain Canada with support from the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation, the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute (previously Rick Hansen Institute), the University of Alberta’s Neuroscience & Mental Health Institute and the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute—is no longer conducted by the SCI rehabilitation program. However, work continues to embed aspects of the registry into standard clinical care and to expand enrollment opportunities to all persons living with an SCI in Alberta. The registry serves as a foundational platform to continue to track, evaluate and address patient outcomes and concerns.  

In late 2018, the SCI Program was invited by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute/University Health Network to participate in a sub-grant study supported by the Craig H. Nielsen Foundation to validate a newly developed pressure injury risk screening instrument called the SCI Pressure Sore Onset Risk Screening (SCI-PreSORS). In order to evaluate the generalizability of the SCI-PreSORS to other sites and to calculate its sensitivity and specificity, they requested access to previously collected data (from the Spinal Cord injury Knowledge Mobilization Network project, 2011-2016) and supplemented it with additional data (i.e., demographics and functional independence measure scores). This work continues and a manuscript will be submitted for publication within the next year.

In March 2019, Dr. Charbonneau and the SCI teams on both the Tertiary Neurorehabilitation Unit at FMC and the SCI Unit at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital completed a project standardizing bladder management practices for SCI patients. The project was supported by an award of a provincial seed grant from the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation. The primary project goal was to standardize bladder management practices to support equitable, optimal, evidence-informed care. This was accomplished through the development and implementation of decision-making pathways and resource guides for staff and patients/families as well as training and coaching for staff. Learnings from this project will support future projects pertaining to bowel management and the management of autonomic dysreflexia.

Physiatry contributes to the diaphragm pacing program, neuromodulation meetings, the Alberta Functional Electrical Stimulation Interest Group, and the local activities of the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute.  The program, through Dr. Charbonneau, published the following papers this year:

  • Hubbard ME, Phillips AA, Charbonneau R, Squair JW, Parr AM, Krassioukov A.  PRES secondary to autonomic dysreflexia: A case series and review of the literature.  Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine.  2019 May 31.
  • Squair JW, Dhaliwal R, Cragg JJ, Charbonneau R, Grant C, Phillips AA.  National Survey of Bladder and Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in People with Spinal Cord Injury. J Neurotrauma. 2019 June 17.

Members 

Dr. Denise Hill, Dr. Rebecca Charbonneau, Dr. Dan McGowan, Raj Parmar (Nurse Practitioner)

(Updated December 2019)