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Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Vol. 39 No. 1, January/February 2002

A database of self-reported secondary medical problems among VA spinal cord injury patients: Its role in clinical care and management


James S. Walter, PhD; Jerome Sacks, PhD; Raslan Othman, MS; Alexander Z. Rankin; Bernard Nemchausky, MD; Rani Chintam, MD; John S. Wheeler, MD

Rehabilitation Research and Development Section of Research Service, Spinal Cord Injury Service, and Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, Hines VA Hospital, Hines, IL

Abstract: An interactive data management (IDM) system for the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Service was developed to collect self-reported patient data related to secondary medical complications and to provide feedback to the SCI rehabilitation team. The long-term objective is to improve clinical care through a process of staff review of current rehabilitation programs in the areas of prevalence, prevention, and management. Based on data from the first 99 SCI patients visiting the clinic and hospital after the installation of the IDM system, SCI patients reported high rates of current problems with spasticity (53 percent), pain (44 percent), and pressure ulcers (38 percent). Respiratory (12 percent) and bowel (14 percent) problems were less common current problems. The SCI staff questioned the reportedly high spasticity rates. They thought that the patients' answers might have indicated simply the occurrence of spasticity, rather than the more important issue of severe spasticity that interferes with daily activities. The staff suggested several additional spasticity questions to add to the study. In other areas, only a small percentage of patients wanted to talk with a therapist about prevention of pressure ulcers. Patients who had urinary problems consistently reported five urinary signs (e.g., cloudy urine). The clinical staff found these data informative and stated that they should continue to be collected.

Key words: pain, pressure ulcers, spasticity, spinal cord injury, urinary tract infections.


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