Paraplegia is partial or complete paralysis of lower half of the body (legs, trunk and pelvic organs) following an injury or disease (tumour) of spinal cord in the thoracic or lumbar region. Because of paralysis, patients have limited or restricted mobility, sometimes bowel and bladder functions may also get affected. The severity of symptoms depends on the location and extent of damage to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injury patients require a special care to prevent risk of infection and to improve the quality of life.
During initial phases, the patient requires 24/7 care (either by family member or professional caregiver) to understand and take care of their basic needs. Gradually they develop certain level of independence in terms of movement and daily activities. However, people with severe injuries and elderly who are in external help can avail home nursing care that provides special care for elderly and such patients.
Home nursing care services include taking care of their medications, nutrition, bathing, bowel and catheter care administration, assistance with dressing and help them getting on with the day by accompanying them in leisure activities, taking them for doctor’s appointments or outings (sometimes) and encourage them for exercise or physiotherapy programmes to improve the range of motion. Following are the steps to improve the level of home care of paraplegic patients:
- Wheelchair: It is very important in regaining independence and moving around. Wheelchairs can be manual or electrical and depends on patient’s age, level of activity and body type. Choosing the right one is crucial for the patient as this determines the level of comfort for the patient.
- Modification of home: Rearrangement of furniture and removal of barriers, to make space for wheelchair to move around. Cabinets and drawers can be kept low for easier access. Shifting patient’s bedroom on ground floor can also be considered. Anti-slippery tiles and bars can be installed in bathroom to prevent any falls.
- Prevention of pressure sores: Lack of activity exerts pressure on certain areas of body such as back, side of legs, and back side of head causing bedsores which can get further infected and cause complication. Gentle turning of patients periodically or encouraging patient to roll on to his /her stomach can help prevent bedsores. Use of air pressure mattress is also helpful.
- Proper care of urinary catheter: This is highly important to take proper care of catheter to prevent any urinary tract infection that can further complicate the condition of patient. Patients can also be taught for the same by caregiver. Signs of infection like presence of pus or blood in urine, reduced or blocked flow needs urgent medical attention.
- Encouraging hobbies: Limited mobility can impact patient’s social activities which can lead to depression also. Caregiver should encourage patient for pursuing hobbies such as reading, listening to music, watching movies, yoga, meditation etc that will improve their physical and psychological health as well.
- Assistance in Daily activities – With daily activities to improve the level of independence and quality of life in elderly.