Tribute for spinal team
During a regional conference on spinal injuries on Friday 21 April, paraplegic Paul Maddison paid tribute to the care and support he received from our spinal 'link' nurses after surgical treatment for osteomylitis in his femur.
Paul has been an incomplete T4 paraplegic since he fell from a roof in 1969. He recalled the psychological trauma of being paralysed after his accident and spoke movingly about his experience of rehabilitation.
One of the key messages of the conference was that the acute management of patients after a spinal cord injury is crucial for their rehabilitation potential – which is why it's essential that staff are properly trained in manual handling and caring for patients with this type of injury. This is one of the roles of the link worker.
“Around 26 per cent of spinal cord injuries that result from spinal fractures could be avoided if the patient is handled in the correct way,” explains Mary Collins, senior sister on Gateley ward, who together with Helen Fordham, deputy sister, on EAU(S), leads the spinal nursing team at NNUH.
“We want to raise awareness of this issue and let staff know that we are here to help with training and support.”
The spinal team at NNUH, which includes spinal consultants Mr.Robert Crawford and Mr Am Rai, works closely with the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Unit in Sheffield and the hospital is recognised as a centre of excellence for dealing with trauma patients.
“For the patients and their families, it's a terrible shock to find that you are suddenly paralysed,” says Mary. “We can't answer all their questions about how their lives will be affected in future, but we can reassure them that there is life after spinal injury.
A big part of the link team's role is to support the family at a very difficult time. Their level of commitment is exceptional.
Notes for editors
- At NNUH, a total of 54 patients were admitted with spinal column injury in the first three and half months of this year, and seven with spinal cord injury. Not all patients require surgery.
- The most common cause of spinal injury is falls (41.7%), followed by road traffic accidents (34.8%), sports injuries (11.6%), and assaults (2.7%) (Ref, SIA)
A total of 115 spinal operations were carried out at NNUH from Jan to the end of April 2006, including both emergency and non-emergency procedures.