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New center for spinal cord injuries established in Gothenburg

News: Mar 23, 2017

The new center for spinal cord injuries in Gothenburg will focus on a group of patients with considerable healthcare and rehabilitation needs. The initiative covers research and education for patients, relatives and medical professionals aimed at giving those affected by such injuries more independence.

“It’s all about improving basic skills - to create a sort of certification process for people interested in working with individuals with spinal cord injuries and resultant respiratory problems. Currently, there is a lot of variation in skill sets from person to person, and if one lacks knowledge about the people one is meant to help, the result is a very poor standard of care,” says Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen, a senior physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Gothenburg.

The construction of the new facility, located at Gothenburg’s Högsbo Hospital, is being funded by a donation of approximately SEK 34 million over the course of five years, generously provided by the Sten A Olsson Foundation for Research and Culture.

“It’s both urgent and important - not to mention a privilege - to support the establishment of a center focused on these issues. There’s a huge need for a knowledge center serving medical professionals, relatives and patients, and focused on issues related to the increasing number of spinal cord-injured patients who now receive outpatient care with personal assistance,” explains the foundation's president, Madeleine Olsson Eriksson.

The Importance of Empowerment

Empowerment will be a key word in the approach taken by the Gothenburg Center for Spinal Cord Injuries. Among other topics, research and training will focus on new technologies, and will aim to provide those affected by spinal cord injuries with options that can allow them to live life on their own terms.

“We hope to give people with spinal cord injuries and those involved in their lives the opportunity to work together to create and achieve common goals, in order to be able to live as independently as possible,” says Agneta Holmäng, professor and department head at Sahlgrenska Academy’s Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Gothenburg.

The courses for people such as home healthcare assistants will last for several days and will provide basic knowledge about spinal cord injuries. Longer courses, equivalent to five weeks of full-time studies (and for which one can receive university credit) will be offered to trained healthcare professionals.

The classes will be conducted both on-site in Gothenburg and remotely, and there are plans to expand the course offerings in the future. As a parallel project, a knowledge bank with educational platforms is being created. It will be accessible via the web, and will allow students and other interested parties to easily access reliable information.

Hundreds of People Are Affected

In Sweden, Gothenburg has long played a leading role in many areas related to the treatment and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries. The center will be a part of the University of Gothenburg’s Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, and will be run in collaboration with Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Västra Götaland County, Halland County, primary healthcare service providers, and various municipalities and interest groups.

A spinal cord injury involves damage to some section of the spinal cord, or to the nerves at the base of the spinal canal. These injuries often result in permanent changes to a person’s strength, sensation, and other bodily functions. Every year, between 200 and 300 people (including roughly 50 from Western Sweden) are injured and join the ranks of people living with spinal cord injuries.

Photo: Cecilia Hedström (Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen) and Magnus Gotander (Agneta Holmäng).

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Originally published on: sahlgrenska.gu.se

Page Manager: Josefin Bergenholtz|Last update: 3/9/2016
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