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Spinal injury centre improving patient recovery

Spinal injury centre improving patient recovery

Health Minister Tony Ryall today visited Middlemore Hospital and heard about how their regional spinal service is improving outcomes for patients with spinal cord impairment.

The 20-bed Middlemore regional spinal cord impairment service cares for around 70-90 patients for the top third of the country each year.

“Spinal injuries are very complex. What we’ve learnt from other regional services, such as the Burwood spinal unit, is patients are less likely to have surgical complications and recover faster when they are cared for by a team of highly skilled specialists in one location,” says Mr Ryall.

“Thanks to the four spinal surgeons, team of specialist spinal care nurses and rehabilitation staff and specialist equipment at the regional service, patients and their families are having a much better experience.

“For example, a young woman had an accident and damaged her spinal cord. She was stabilised by doctors at her local hospital and flown to the regional spinal service. A highly skilled spinal surgeon repaired her spinal cord and within ten days of her accident she was in the specialist rehabilitation unit learning to walk again.

“In the past, this patient would have been operated on in one location, recovered at another and then transferred to another for rehabilitation. This regional service is not only improving patient care it is also reducing unnecessary stress for families.

“We want to continue to improve the care patients with spinal damage receive. I will be releasing an action plan shortly for spinal cord rehabilitation services concentrating on getting early access to these specialist services for patients, regardless of where they live in the country” says Mr Ryall.


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