Who Will Help After Spinal Cord Injuries


Members of the healthcare team will work together with you, your family and friends during the hospital stay. Care will be centered on your specific needs. Family and friends are important members of the team.


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Patient: You as the patient are the most important member of the team. Care will be planned based on how you and your body respond to treatment.

Family and Friends: Your family and friends provide emotional support. They may also provide the healthcare team with important facts about your past history and can help watch for changes.

Doctors: Neurosurgery and Orthopaedic doctors are specialists that help determine the type of spinal cord injury as well as the medical and surgical treatment. They may perform surgery on your spine. They will work with other doctors if you are in intensive care or have injuries to other parts of your body. A rehabilitation doctor (Physiatrist) may also talk with you and your family about what to expect during your hospital stay and go over any questions you may have about what occurs if you are transferred to a rehabilitation unit.

Nurses: Nurses will check your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart and breathing rate) and watch for changes in movement and sensation. They will also help you with daily care such as eating and bathing. Nurses also coordinate care among the members of the healthcare team.

Social Workers: Social workers provide you with emotional support and help you and your family to adjust to being in the hospital. They coordinate discharge planning, referral to community resources, and questions related to insurance or disability.

Physical Therapist (P.T.): Physical therapists evaluate and treat weaknesses in strength, flexibility, balance, rolling, sitting, standing, and if possible, walking. Treatment may include exercises and teaching you to use equipment such as braces or wheelchairs.

Occupational Therapists (O.T.): Occupational therapists evaluate your ability to perform dressing, bathing and home-making activities. They provide treatment and/or equipment needed for your care after discharge. They also help with work and leisure activities.

Speech Therapists: Speech therapists test and treat speech, language and swallowing problems.

Dieticians: Dieticians assess nutritional needs. They work with you and other team members to help you meet nutritional goals.

There are many other staff members that will work with you and your family. These include:

  • Psychiatric Nurses
  • Clergy
  • Patient Representatives
  • Music Therapists
  • Activity Therapists
  • Child Life Therapists
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists

Publication of this educational booklet is made possible in part by the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Metronic
  • Stryker
  • DePuy Spine
  • Fraternal Order of Eagles