Comprehensive, integrated rehabilitation
Where you choose to receive care for a spinal cord injury (SCI) can make a real difference in your rehabilitation. Not all facilities offer the same levels of expertise, equipment, or therapies. Gaylord’s Spinal Cord Injury Program, however, offers an extraordinary range of technologies and patient services, all based on the latest research and best practices in spinal cord injury care. To ensure that our patients regain as much ability as possible, we believe that they deserve nothing less than world-class care.
Activity Based Restorative Therapies
These therapies establish normal patterns of activation in the nervous system and can encourage neural regeneration. They also help patients avoid complications of paralysis – such as osteoporosis, skin breakdown, infection, cardiovascular decline, and other signs of premature aging – which are costly to treat and detrimental to overall quality of life. Prior to the first therapy session, we evaluate the patient’s medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. Therapy is then adapted to the patient’s capabilities. Regular revaluations occur throughout the process to ensure continued safety and effectiveness. Therapy sessions are conducted on an individual basis and are focused on the meeting goals established between patient and physician, e.g. developing the muscles required for sitting, standing and walking.
Ekso Bionic Exoskeleton
Gaylord is one of 19 locations in the U.S. to have the Ekso bionic exoskeleton. Ekso is a portable, adjustable bionic exoskeleton designed to help patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness resulting from a spinal cord injury, or some other neurologic condition. The main goal is to improve the health and quality of life of patients by getting them up, standing and walking. Click to see our interactive Ekso microsite.
Cycling with Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
FES works by having a computer send electrical messages to a person’s muscles, causing them to contract in a way that can be used for purposeful movement, such as grasping an object. Riding an FES bike simulates the physical activity a person normally experiences during an average day. Cycling for one hour is equivalent to walking 6,000 steps.
The buoyant force of water supports about 90% of a person’s weight and provides a unique therapeutic environment. People with paralysis can perform activities in water that would be impossible for them on land. This therapy, like cycling an FES bike, can provide the patterned stimulation needed to promote the growth of neural cells. Aquatic Therapy uses water as a therapeutic environment. Water functions as a natural, low-impact exercise environment that requires effort proportionate to the speed of motion. Patients of all functional levels are able to participate in this therapy. Staffed by therapists certified in advanced aquatic techniques, the three pools provide a range of temperatures and treatment options.
Partial Weight Supported Walking Therapy
Partial Weight Supported Walking Therapy involves suspending patients in a harness and allowing them to walk over an electric treadmill at a very slow speed. For individuals unable to initiate stepping, two therapists will help advance the lower extremities and ensure an efficient and technically correct gait pattern. Gait training allows a person to relearn natural walking while recovering mobility. As gait pattern is established, the individual is allowed to bear progressively more weight through the lower extremities. In the case of incomplete spinal cord injury, PWSWT is followed or complemented by traditional over-ground walking. Our patients also work on strengthening the core muscles of the trunk and abdomen, needed for sitting and standing. Time is also spent on standing activities in preparation for more patterned activity that simulates walking. We make use of the latest equipment available.
Gaylord’s Ventilator Care Program provides for the specialized care of spinal cord injury patients who require a mechanical ventilator for breathing. Many ventilator-dependent patients may be weaned from ventilator use with the supervision, encouragement and support of Gaylord’s respiratory therapy staff. Gaylord has an excellent record in successfully weaning patients from mechanical ventilation via the ventilator care program. Respiratory weaning is tailored to the needs of each patient under the director of a pulmonologist and respiratory care practitioner who have expertise in working with patients with spinal cord injuries.
Spasticity is an uncontrolled tightening or contracting of the muscles that is common in people with spinal cord injury, brain injury or disease. Our Spinal Cord Injury Program provides the full spectrum of treatment options to help individuals with spasticity. Each patient is assessed to determine what may be triggering the spasticity, such as infection or skin breakdown, and then given an individualized treatment plan. The treatment plan may include specific stretches, splints, braces or oral medication options. If part of the body has spasticity, our physicians are experienced in the use of botulinum toxin injections which are given into the spastic muscle in order to relax it. Being one of the first Spinal Cord Injury Centers in the country to use the intrathecal baclofen pump, Gaylord's staff will conduct an evaluation to determine if the pump is appropriate and takes care of refills and dose adjustments.
Mobility is crucial to our total well-being - especially for people who require assistive devices such as wheelchairs. Manual wheelchair users propel an average of 2000-3000 times per day, with 75% of all manual users experiencing some upper limb pain or injury in their lifetime. Gaylord's Wheelchair Assessment Service can improve mobility through the proper recommendation of customized wheelchairs. Our Wheelchair Assessment Service is coordinated by registered physical therapists who are certified Assistive Technology Providers (ATP) with advanced training in seating and positioning. Rehab Technology Suppliers (RTS), also ATP certified, are present at evaluations to assist in equipment selection and to provide the equipment to clients.
Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is the only provider in Connecticut to use the Smart Wheel System. Using ultra lightweight manual wheelchairs, SmartWheel technology provides information on push force, push frequency, push length, push smoothness, and speed. With this information, modifications and adjustments are made to the chair to reduce repetitive stress and optimize push style, reducing force and frequency of pushes to preserve optimal shoulder integrity.
Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel Management
Difficulty with bladder function from a neurological disorder is called "neurogenic bladder," and difficulty with bowel function is called "neurogenic bowels." Gaylord's clinical team is very experienced in the evaluation and treatment of bladder and bowel difficulties that may arise from a spinal cord injury. Different levels of spinal cord injury may cause different types of neurogenic bowels or bladder, and there are various treatments options available depending on an individual’s specific needs. Our team of nurses, therapists, rehabilitation physicians, and urologists work with patients to discover the most appropriate therapy, including diagnostic testing, bladder retraining, medications, evaluation of bladder equipment and devices as well as bowel care assistive devices.
The Sports Association of Gaylord Hospital supports disabled sports teams and clubs throughout Connectiuct. The Association encourages people with physical disabilities to particpate in sports and experience new sport activites and is a member of the Disabled Member of Disabled Sports, USA. Some of our teams include the Connecticut Jammers Quad Rugby and Connecticut Hornets Wheelchair Tennis.
As our patients with spinal cord injuries continue their journey to independence, we offer a full complement of assistive technologies that enable greater independence. Assistive technology is available for phone access, computer access, and various environmental controls, and these technologies are used through computer, switch or voice activation.
Spinal Cord Injury Model System
Working in partnership with Boston University, Gaylord is a member of the New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center (NERSCIC). Dedicated to advancing spinal cord injury-related care and research, the Center has been designated as a Spinal Cord Injury Model System by the U.S. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Only 14 programs in the nation have earned this distinction. More than just an award, this designation is your assurance that at Gaylord you will receive the finest spinal cord injury care available anywhere.