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Life Care Planning For Spinal Cord Injuries

HEIDI PAUL, PH.D., CRC, CLCP, LPCC Associate Professor Coordinator MS Counseling, Option Rehabilitation California State University, Los Angeles

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A spinal cord injury (SCI) is harm to the spinal cord which causes physical, physiological, and/or emotional changes in an individual. Each year, there are 17,500 new spinal cord injuries, in the United States, there are between 245,000 and 353,000 Americans living with a spinal cord injury. Most spinal cord injuries occur in people ages 16-30 years old. The leading causes of spinal cord injuries, in order of most common: motor vehicle accidents, followed by falls, violence, and sporting accidents.

The spinal cord is part of the Central Nervous System (CNS), which consists of the brain and spinal cord. The Central Nervous system is responsible for receiving, integrating, and responding to environmental information. In addition, the CNS keeps our hearts beating, our lungs breathing, as well as metabolic processes functioning (involuntary functions). The CNS executes all muscle movement needed for accomplishing activities of daily life, feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing, transferring, and continence (voluntary function). 


What Is A Life Care Plan?

HEIDI PAUL, PH.D., CRC, CLCP, LPCC Associate Professor Coordinator MS Counseling, Option Rehabilitation California State University, Los Angeles

TASA ID:

A life care plan is an organized and comprehensive plan that identifies an individual’s current and future medical needs or equipment for those who have suffered a catastrophic injury resulting in ongoing health care and personal needs. Life care plans identify service needs, such as future medical care, future surgeries, medications, diagnostic testing, evaluations, therapeutic modalities, independent functioning, wheelchair/scooter, orthotics/prosthetics, home furnishings and accessories, home/facility care, architectural renovations, and orthopedic equipment.

The plan should be well organized, clearly identifying the life care needs with a beginning and ending date for each service, the frequency and cost of the service, and the total cost for all sessions, treatments, or evaluations.  Cost for the same service should come from more than one provider, ideally obtaining costs from three different providers of the same service will yield the best estimate of cost. 
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