Toronto (Oct. 17, 2012) - The first atlas of Canadian spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Environmental Scan Atlas: Capturing Capacity in Canadian SCI Rehabilitation (E-Scan Atlas), was released today by Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – UHN and the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI). It profiles 13 SCI rehabilitation sites in Canada, and additional Canadian rehabilitations expert, identifies national trends, outlines the best practices in SCI rehabilitation, and recommends how to improve national care.

Approximately 86,000 Canadians live with SCI and there are an estimated 4,000 new cases each year. Compared to the general population, individuals with SCI are re-hospitalized 2.6 times more often, require contact with a physician three times more often, and require 30 times more hours of home care services.

"Our team of researchers was compelled to conduct the E-Scan by our genuine passion for rehabilitation and commitment to provide the best care to individuals living with spinal cord injury," explained Dr. Cathy Craven, Scientist, Toronto Rehab – UHN and lead investigator of E-Scan. "We knew the E-Scan would determine opportunities to enhance patient care through the creation of a sustainable, customized and efficient system."

The data in the E-Scan Atlas is intended for health professionals, governments, NGOs and health policy-makers to facilitate program self-evaluation and reorganization, to create future research and health policy agendas, and to inform best practices for SCI rehabilitation.

Rick Hansen Institute funded the E-Scan project, with support from the federal and Ontario governments. "To improve rehabilitation care, you first need a baseline understanding of the current clinical care practices in Canada. In addition to providing this snapshot of current care, Dr. Craven galvanized the Canadian rehabilitation community to contribute their expertise to inform this pan-Canadian effort," said Erin Cherban, Director of Clinical Research Operations at the Rick Hansen Institute.

Each chapter of the E-Scan Atlas defines a specific goal of SCI rehabilitation: it defines the processes of rehabilitation; outlines what does and does not work; and spotlights a centre in Canada with the best practice.

"By showcasing the best practice for each area of rehabilitation, the E-Scan Atlas profiles exemplary care that other SCI rehab centres should emulate, thereby creating unique opportunities for centres to learn from one another on a national level," said Dr. Craven. "The E-Scan Atlas will generate knowledge, influence clinical practices and inform policy change. This will strengthen care for people living with SCI across Canada." The E-Scan Atlas also gives evidence of how the system needs to improve.

For example:

  • The current system does not incorporate preventive approaches to SCI-related conditions; the recommendation is to focus on self-managements skills and greater promotion of healthy lifestyle practices.
  • The SCI population visits the emergency department and their physician at a high frequency - many visits are preventable if alternative care options were available; the recommendation is to develop interprofessional models to support lifetime care, which would likely result in substantial system savings.
  • There is a need to address regional disparity in care and to ensure delivery of the best care, with regards to medication, devices, services and supplies; the recommendation is to develop a national body for SCI rehabilitation to lobby and routinely advocate for relevant changes in health policy.

"By using the E-Scan Atlas, Canadian rehabilitation providers, people with SCI and their care-givers now have evidence-based data to advocate for preventive care, improved clinical care services and a reduction in regional service disparity," said Vanessa Noonan, Director of Research, RHI.

The E-Scan Atlas is being released at Toronto Rehab's 5th National Spinal Cord Injury Conference: Translating Neural Engineering and Novel Therapies, being held in Toronto from October 18 to 20. It is also available on the RHI website. The methodology for creating the E-Scan Atlas was published in the October issue of the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine.

About Rick Hansen Institute

The Rick Hansen Institute is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries. RHI's mission is to lead collaboration across the global SCI community by providing resources, infrastructure and knowledge; and to identify, develop, validate and accelerate the translation of evidence into best practices.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

One of North America's leading rehabilitation sciences centres, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is revolutionizing rehabilitation by helping people overcome the challenges of disabling injury, illness or age related health conditions to live active, healthier, more independent lives. It integrates innovative patient care, groundbreaking research and diverse education to build healthier communities and advance the role of rehabilitation in the health system. Toronto Rehab, along with Toronto Western, Toronto General and Princess Margaret Hospitals, is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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