A New Resource for SCI Caregivers


Living with a spinal cord injury can be complicated. During rehab we often are taught about the care we will need, but finding caregivers with the proper training  isn’t always easy. Whether your family members perform your care, or you employ personal care assistants from an agency, caregivers can now benefit from a free online course specifically designed to train in the care of those with spinal cord injury (SCI).

The unique needs of SCI

Spinal cord injury comes with multiple secondary issues many health professionals don’t have experience with.

While physicians and skilled nursing will address many of these health needs, other tasks will be the responsibility of personal care attendants.

These responsibilities may include:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Incontinence care
  • Safe operation of Hoyer lift
  • Proper application of sling for transfers
  • Quad cough
  • Checking body for pressure wounds
  • Skincare
  • Recognizing autonomic dysreflexia
  • Troubleshooting autonomic dysreflexia
  • Managing blood pressure

In addition to addressing SCI care and complications, personal care attendants are also faced with a unique task of understanding the personal and social challenges that often come with SCI.

A new free course now offers this training online.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury: A Course for Personal Care Assistants was developed by the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research at Kessler Foundation, the Shepherd Center, and the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.

This course consulted experienced PCAs, home health care agency leaders, trainers, family members, and rehabilitation clinicians.

Modules of the course include:

  • Understanding the types of spinal cord injury
  • Complications of SCI
  • Common misunderstandings about SCI
  • Physical functions affected by SCI
  • Personal and social challenges created by SCI
  • Building positive assistant-client relationships
  • Understanding assistive technology and medical equipment

The course is the first of its kind to offer free, interactive material focused on spinal cord injury care, and received positive feedback when pilot-tested by personal care assistants without prior experience with SCI care.