By Lesley M. Hudson, MA
SCIMS Co-Project Director
The Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) program, in which Shepherd Center participates, produces a series of fact sheets as resources for people with spinal cord injury (SCI), as well as their families. In previous blogs, I have featured topics such as pain management and adaptive sports and recreation. Now, I will showcase information on adapted driving and respiratory health.
In collaboration with SCIMS, experts from the adapted driving program at Shepherd Center created a useful fact sheet, which covers a series of factors that someone with an injury needs to consider before deciding whether driving is an option:
A driving rehabilitation specialist can provide an evaluation to decide if you are ready and able to drive. Here are some requirements for a return to driving:
When you meet with a driving rehabilitation specialist, he or she will evaluate your:
Additional elements in the process of driving include how to pay for needed equipment and the best time to begin the process.
“It is our sincere hope that the information in this new fact sheet will inspire readers to explore their options for transportation and driving,” says John Anschutz, ATP, RET, manager of the Shepherd Center Assistive Technology Center. “We hope the information and resources presented will help ease concerns about whom to see, what resources are available and how to approach the maze of options without spending too much or getting overwhelmed. Shepherd Center’s Driving Program gets great satisfaction with every person who regains the freedom and independence that personal transportation can foster.”
Before your injury, you probably breathed with very little thought. After injury, breathing can be more challenging because it involves motor function that may be damaged. Signals sent from the brain may no longer be able to pass beyond the damage done to the spinal cord, and this deficit can lead to health issues such as bronchitis, pneumonia and sleep apnea. Bronchitis and pneumonia are lung infections, while sleep apnea occurs when the back of the throat collapses and then opens repeatedly while you’re asleep. Loud snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, as is feeling very sleepy during waking hours.
To reduce the chances of having any of these conditions, consider the following:
For additional information on both of these fact sheets, as well as the entire series available from SCIMS, go to: msktc.org/sci/factsheets.
LESLEY HUDSON, MA, is co-director of the Southeastern Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System at Shepherd Center. She is also the former executive director of the American Spinal Injury Association. She has worked in a number of administrative and research positions at Shepherd Center since 1976.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. Last year Shepherd Center had 965 admissions to its inpatient programs and 571 to its day patient programs. In addition, Shepherd Center sees more than 6,600 people annually on an outpatient basis. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at www.shepherd.org