Adjusting to a life-changing disability, such as a spinal cord injury, can be difficult. You are adapting to a new way of living. It’s scary to think about how to get the support you need.
Once you leave the hospital or rehabilitation center, you’re often left to figure out how to get the services you need.
Dr. Susan Newman (from the MUSC College of Nursing) and the disAbility Resource Center are working as partners in a pilot peer-navigation research study to assist individuals with finding information and resources to live a more healthy and functional lifestyle.
Navigators, people who have lived with a spinal cord injury for a number of years, will be available in the community to help others improve the quality of life after being injured. One of the main goals of the project is to educate the person with the injury about preventing common secondary conditions after spinal cord injury, such as urinary tract infections and pressure sores.
Pressure ulcers, as they’re also known, are one of the most common complications for a person with a spinal cord injury. A person who is often sitting or lying down for long periods of time can get irritations to the skin. It’s often difficult for the person with the sore to know if they have one if there is paralysis in that part of the body.
In addition to educating about health and health-care needs, the navigator will provide peer support and share info about opportunities for peer-mentoring groups, social involvement, recreation and financial assistance.
I have been working with the project advisory committee for the last few months and I’m looking forward to seeing the program in action. The outcomes for this study are to have fewer patients in the hospital to treat pressure sores and urinary tract infections and to help those with spinal cord injuries become more active in their communities.