WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Paralyzed Veterans of America, in collaboration with the Consortium of SCI Medicine, has published a new Clinical Practice Guideline to guide health care providers in treating mental health disorders in adults with spinal cord injury and disease like MS and ALS. More information on the CPG can be found on PVA's website at PVA.org/Publications
Suicide, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance use are all significantly more prevalent in individuals with spinal cord injury than in individuals without SCI. However, these mental health disorders are often not recognized and addressed as they should be, perhaps because of the other more obvious physical health impairments caused by SCI and the stigma that surrounds mental health disorders.
"We strongly believe care for mental health and substance use disorders should be part of comprehensive SCI rehabilitation and treatment," said David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "We are grateful to the panel of experts who worked to put these guidelines together and hope the information will be shared widely so those with SCI can receive the quality care they deserve."
The panel of authors includes national experts from the fields of nursing, physiatry, psychiatry, and psychology. It is the hope of PVA and its authors that this wide-ranging representation will translate into uniform quality practice and help rehabilitation professionals accurately diagnose and treat these disorders.
"Mental health and substance use disorders affect a significant fraction of people with SCI," said Charles Bombardier Ph.D., Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington and Panel Chair for this CPG. "We hope that this CPG will be used to elevate the effectiveness and integration of mental health and substance abuse services within comprehensive SCI rehabilitation and treatment throughout the world."
Written with the non-mental health specialist in mind, these guidelines are important for every practitioner involved in treating those living with SCI. The CPG covers evidence-based screening and assessment tools, pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, and strategies all team members can use to support the recovery process across the lifespan of a patient.
"Delayed identification or inadequate management of mental health and substance use disorders can cause additional disability or suffering to people with spinal cord injury," said Dr. Sunil Sabharwal, SCI Chief, VA Boston Health Care System. "All members of the spinal cord injury care team, regardless of profession or discipline, will find the expert recommendations and concise, practical information in this CPG useful for incorporating in their own practice to enhance the mental health and well-being of individuals with spinal cord injury."
This CPG is an essential resource in the tool box of every practitioner who is involved in the treatment of people living with SCI, and has the potential to save the lives of those whose mental health disorders otherwise may have gone unnoticed and untreated.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Learn more at pva.org.
SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America