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Members of your medical care team after a spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injuries can considerably change a person's life. Not only do victims have to deal with the daunting information they receive about the injury, they also have to handle the influx of people who are working with them. This is difficult and can be downright confusing.

Each part of the medical care team is equally important. Always remember that you are an integral member of the team and have a say in making each decision regarding your care. Anyone who isn't able to advocate for themselves should execute a power of attorney for medical care so that person can make those decisions for them.

Doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners

Doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are your first line of care. These individuals can write prescriptions for medications and work to address medical needs. You might have multiple people in each position because of the various specialties that might be necessary. For example, you might need to have neurosurgery and respiratory therapy, as well as others when you are receiving care.

Therapists

Therapists have specialties that they work in. You may see an occupational therapist who can help you learn how to do daily living tasks. A physical therapist helps you with mobility issues that come with a spinal cord injury. A respiratory therapist focuses on breathing issues. A speech-language pathologist helps you to swallow and communicate.

Nurses are technicians

Nurses can administer medications, take vital signs and ensure continuity of care for you. They work closely with doctors to report facts about how you're doing so the doctors can make informed decisions about the direction of your care. Patient care technicians work with the nursing team to provide you with daily care. They can help you with hygiene and mobility issues. They may also take your vital signs to report them to the nurse.

Other team members

Your team might also include a nurse case manager, a registered dietitian and a social worker. These individuals help you in various aspects of your life. The nurse case manager serves as a go-between with the insurance company so you can receive maximum care for the benefits you have available. The registered dietitian helps to improve your nutritional program. The social worker can help you get what you need while you're in the hospital, and they can also help you with the transition to hope. Sometimes, chaplains, pastors, preachers and priests can provide spiritual support, as well as emotional assistance as you learn to live with your injury.

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