Interdisciplinary rehabilitation for a patient with incomplete cervical spinal cord injury and multimorbidity: A case report

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Rationale:This report describes interdisciplinary rehabilitation for a 51-year-old male recovering from incomplete cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) and multiple comorbidities following an automobile accident.Patient concerns:The patient was admitted to a rehabilitation specialty hospital approximately 2 months post SCI and 2 separate surgical fusion procedures (C3–C6).Diagnoses:Clinical presentation at the rehabilitation hospital included moderate to severe motor strength loss in both upper and lower extremities, a percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy tube (PEG), dysphagia, bowel/bladder incontinence, dependence on a mechanical lift and tilting wheelchair due to severe orthostatic hypotension, and pre-existing shoulder pain from bilateral joint degeneration.Interventions:The interdisciplinary team formally coordinated rehabilitative care from multiple disciplines. Internal medicine managed medications, determined PEG removal, monitored co-morbid conditions, and overall progress. Chiropractic care focused on alleviating shoulder and thoracic pain and improving spinal and extremity mobility. Physical therapy addressed upright tolerance, transfer, gait, and strength training. Occupational therapy focused on hand coordination and feeding/dressing activities. Psychology assisted with coping strategies. Nursing ensured medication adherence, nutrient intake, wound prevention, and incontinence management, whereas physiatry addressed abnormal muscle tone.Outcomes:Eleven months post-admission the patient's progress allowed discharge to a long-term care facility. At this time he was without dysphagia or need for a PEG. Orthostatic hypotension and bilateral shoulder pain symptoms were also resolved while bowel/bladder incontinence and upper and lower extremity motor strength loss remained. He was largely independent in transferring from bed to wheelchair and in upper body dressing. Lower body dressing/bathing required maximal assistance. Gait with a 2-wheeled walker was possible up to 150 feet with verbal cues and occasional stabilizing assistance.Lessons:Several specialties functioning within an interdisciplinary team fulfilled complementary roles to support rehabilitation for a patient with SCI.

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