Paraplegia and Quadriplegia

A person who has suffered from a spinal cord injury (SCI) will certainly benefit from neurological physiotherapy. The injury may be due to an accident, gunshot, tumour, infection and many other reasons. There is much hope and potential for rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord injury can be complete or incomplete. It can affect legs and body (paraplegia) or arms, legs and body (quadriplegia or tetraplegia).

Neurological physiotherapy will be specific to your needs as a patient and will be focused towards the specific problems you may face. Rehabilitation will depend on the level and severity of the damage to the spinal cord.

Neuro physio will focus on encouraging whatever movement is possible and improving on it through strengthening, stretching, balance retraining, sensory stimulation and visual feedback. The aim is to maximise your potential and promote your level of independence.

Physiotherapy treatment will focus on:

  • Exercise to increase muscle strength and co-contraction.
  • Maintaining muscle length and joint range of movement and preventing muscle shortening and tightness through stretching.
  • Regaining normal patterns of movement.
  • Standing with the use of a tilt table to improve function of internal organs, lungs and to increase weight bearing through your legs and feet.
  • Exercises to improve control and movement of the head, arms, trunk and legs.
  • Activities to improve balance and coordination of your trunk.
  • Offer advice on positioning to increase comfort and to improve posture in lying, sitting and standing. This will reduce pressure areas and prevent secondary complications such as pressure sores.
  • Aid in improving confidence and building self-esteem.
  • Therapy will also improve endurance and exercise tolerance.
  • Teaching wheelchair skills if necessary, this includes wheelchair dexterity and manipulation.
  • Breathing control and assisted coughing if appropriate, to prevent secondary complications such as chest infections.
  • Teaching transfers (between wheelchair, bed, car, toilet) to improve safety and promote independence.
  • Advice and information on orthotic devices e.g. for dropped foot and walking aids.
  • Pain management if necessary.
  • Refer for Botox
  • Serial Casting in house by trained physios.

At Rehabilita, Anne Knowles Physiotherapy, Roodepooort, Johannesburg, we have some specialised equipment that could benefit you:

Therapeutic electrical stimulation (Reduce pain and build muscle strength)

Functional Electrical Stimulation (help you walk if you have muscle weakness in the lower legs)

Theratrainer Active passive exercise bike (assist you to turn the pedals if you would otherwise not be able to cycle, you can either try and build up muscle strength or just let the bike do the work and get the benefits of your legs being moved and stretched). You can also use it for arm strengthening as it has upper limb attachments.

Tilt Table (if you are wheelchair bound and would like to stand up, this piece of equipment will stand you up safely to get some weight through your legs with no effort required by the patient)

Parallel bars (practice walking and balancing in a safe environment)

Physiotherapy treatment will be personalised to your needs, which will be determined after an initial assessment is completed. It is here where your physiotherapist will discuss with you and your family members, the long and short term goals of your treatment and these will be regularly revised and remain at the centre of your rehabilitation.

Treatment sessions will be with a qualified physiotherapist who has a special interest in neurological rehabilitation. Your physiotherapist will guide you through an effective, structured and enjoyable programme aimed at improving your physical function and quality of life. We are able to do home visits if required.

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