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First spinal cord compression guidelines for physios published

23 September 2014 - 3:47pm

Patients with metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) should be referred for physiotherapy on admission, says a report from Northern Ireland’s Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network.

Spinal consultation. Photo: Jess Hurd

The guidelines, available to download below, are aimed at Northern Ireland but are applicable to the whole of the UK. Photo: Jess Hurd

Titled Guidelines for the rehabilitation of patients with metastatic spinal cord compression, it says that physiotherapy assessments should be carried out within 24-48 hours of admission.

The document, made public on 11 September, recommends that assessments should include

  • a history of the current medical condition
  • the results of investigations
  • pre-admission mobility
  • function and rehab history
  • social and drug history

It calls for stability of the spine and the level of mobility allowed to be agreed by a multidisciplinary team, which may include an oncologist, radiologist, orthopaedic surgeon, physiotherapist and occupational therapist.

Aileen McCartney, chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Oncology and Palliative Care, said: ‘These are the first guidelines on MSCC patients aimed specifically at physios and occupational therapists.

‘They should be a huge benefit to physios working with MSCC patients, and particularly those working in the acute sector who are not used to working with this group of patients.’

She said that, although the guidelines are aimed at Northern Ireland, they are applicable across the whole of the UK.

The guidelines were developed using research evidence, expert opinion and professional consensus. They are aimed at all physios and occupational therapists involved in the management of patients with MSCC in the acute sector.


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