About the State Spinal Cord Injury Service
Spinal Cord Injury
For patients, entry into the spinal cord injury service is an unanticipated, unwanted catastrophic life change and for most, the commencement of a life-long association with a complex array of services.
Persisting spinal cord injury impacts on every aspect of a person's life. Effective management of the acute phase of spinal cord injury and addressing life-long health and disability needs calls on a wide range of clinical, social and technical resources, requiring a whole-of-government approach to service provision and co-ordination. Though relatively rare, spinal cord injury has a significant impact on public sector services and resources.
Spinal cord injury continues to have a significant impact on the lives of affected patients. However, because of improved continuing care, particularly of skin, respiratory, bladder, renal, bowel and psychological conditions, the life expectancy of patients is estimated to be 70 per cent of the normal life expectancy for people with complete tetraplegia, 84 per cent for people with complete paraplegia and at least 90 per cent for those with an incomplete lesion. This increase in life expectancy has been a major achievement during the past 12 to 15 years and comes through the recognition of spinal cord injuries as a specialty, which has led to improvements in a range of areas including research, training and standards of care.
This success is also a reflection of the population's own efforts in the areas of advocacy, disability rights and establishing significant non-government organisations, such as Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and ParaQuad NSW, to support people living with a spinal cord injury.
The network has a strong focus in both metropolitan and rural NSW. About one third of people who sustain a spinal cord injury return to live in rural areas of NSW. A lack of specialised services and fewer healthcare providers can present challenges for patients in these areas.
James Middleton, Director and Chair
Director, NSW Statewide Spinal Cord Injury Service
Agency for Clinical Innovation
Louise Kelly, Deputy Chair
Clinical Nurse Consultant
Royal North Shore Hospital
Northern Sydney Local Health District
The ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service is led by a clinical development committee which includes doctors, nurses, allied health staff, non-government organisations and consumers.
The service has more than 200 members and includes clinicians, consumers and representatives from the NSW Ministry of Health, local health districts, specialty network governed health corporations and non-government organisations.
The ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service has also established a database to track research, statistics and quality in spinal cord injury services.
- To finalise the Acute Spinal Cord Injury Transfer Guidelines and distribute across NSW.
- To develop a statewide model of care for prevention and management of pressure ulcers in people with a spinal cord injury.
- To complete research to identify psychosocial aspects of spinal cord injury rehabilitation, funded by the Motor Accident Authority (MAA).
- To work with the NSW Ministry of Health to implement the recommendations of the Selected Specialty and Statewide Service Plan Spinal Cord Injury (number 8) released in December 2010.
- Other priority areas of the ACI Spinal Cord Injury Network are outlined in the Spinal Cord Injury Plan.
- Establishment of the Rural Spinal Cord Injury Service, with the goal of ensuring more equitable delivery of specialist spinal services in rural NSW, in partnership with local agencies and service providers.
- Launch of the Guide for Health Professionals on the Psychosocial Care of People with Spinal Cord Injury and Directory of Information Support.
- Development and implementation of the Spinal Seating Professional Development Program.
- Updated and statewide distribution of the Safety Notice on Autonomic Dysreflexia and the development of three educational DVDs for health professionals, ambulance paramedics and consumers. See Spinal Cord Injury Resources: Autonomic Dysreflexia
- Collaboration with NSW Health on the Statewide Services Plan for Spinal Cord Injury Services to 2016.
The ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service has been given the mandate to ensure spinal cord injury services are co-ordinated, networked, enhanced and reviewed to best meet the needs of its stakeholders.
The network was originally created as the result of recommendations made by the Greater Metropolitan Services Implementation Group (GMSIG).
Members of the ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service (SSCIS) participate in, and contribute to, the network through a range of committees and special interest groups. In late 2014 SSCIS undertook a review its committee structure with the update of some of the terms of reference, establishment of new sub-committees and strengthening of communication between committees, sub-committees, special interest and discipline specific professional networks. These are outlined in the SSCIS Committee Structure.