Perspectives On Recovery.
People who live with spinal injuries often say the first year of recovery is the toughest--not only for themselves but for their caregivers, as well.
But researchers and the people struggling with the recovery may actually have different interpretations of the reasons--especially military veterans.
The Department of Defense recently awarded researchers from Metro-Health Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University --both in Cleveland --more than $800,000 to study the experiences and needs of veterans and civilians who have sustained spinal-cord injuries (SCI).
An interdisciplinary team of researchers will interview veterans and civilians with SCI, as well as their caregivers, during the first year of recovery as they attempt to reintegrate into the community.
The three-year study will compare the experiences of 15 veterans with SCI and their caregivers with the same number of civilians and their caregivers to identify the barriers and facilitators they experience as they attempt to access treatment options. Researchers will re-interview them six and 12 months later, and they'll ask a series of questions that include what "recovery" means to each of them.
The project, called the Perspectives on Recovery and Interventions to Restore Function Across the First Year of Spinal Cord Injury, is a partnership between MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, the United Spinal Association Northeast Ohio Chapter and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) Medical Center.
The results may impact how to approach rehabilitation, but they may also lead to changes in policy to improve access to treatments.
Participants' responses will be recorded and categorized in specialized coding software to identify themes and patterns, says Kim Anderson, a professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Anderson is joined in the research by Anne Bryden, Sue Hinze, Brian Gran, Mary Ann Richmond and Angela Kuemmel.
Researchers expect the responses to change during the project as experiences and challenges shift for both the injured and their caregivers. They also expect the responses to be different between veterans and civilians.