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What's happening now! Telehealth management of spinal cord injury/disorders.

Woo C, Guihan M, Frick C, Gill CM, Ho CH. What's happening now! Telehealth management of spinal cord injury/disorders. The journal of spinal cord medicine. 2011 Jan 1; 34(3):322-31.

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CONTEXT: Spinal cord injury and/or disorders (SCI/D) is a costly chronic condition. Impaired mobility, and lengthy travel distances to access specialty providers are barriers that can have adverse impact on expenses and quality of care. Although ample opportunities for use of telehealth technologies exist between medical facilities, and from clinical to home settings, field experience has largely been focused on home telehealth services to promote better patient self-management skills and improve clinical outcomes. FINDINGS: This paper provides an overview of published literature on use of telehealth technologies with the SCI/D population. Presentation of case studies describe telehealth as a potential strategy for addressing disparities in providing quality care, and explore comprehensive management of multiple health issues in individuals with SCI/D. Experiences of providers in both private sector health-care systems and VHA medical facilities are described. Development of telehealth clinical protocols and adaptive devices that can be integrated with equipment to accommodate for the functional limitations in the SCI/D population are discussed as necessary for expansion of use of telehealth services. Rigorous research studies are lacking. As use of this technology spreads and issues surrounding implementation are addressed, we look forward to increased research to assess and evaluate its efficacy in the SCI/D population. Conclusion/clinical relevance: Telehealth in the home setting appears to be able to help persons with SCI/D remain in the community. As the use of telehealth increases, research will be necessary in both clinical and home settings to assess its efficacy in improving outcomes in the SCI/D population.

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