Pressure ulcers are a common occurrence for people with SCI, whether in care or at home in the community. Pressure ulcers are often more debilitating than the spinal cord injury itself. According to a recent RHI-sponsored survey of people with SCI in the community, pressure ulcers significantly limit activities for almost half of the respondents presenting this complication.
Many Canadians with SCI and other mobility disabilities live significant distances from healthcare facilities that specialize in the treatment of pressure ulcers, and do not have timely or convenient access to the expert care required to minimize the impact of these potentially devastating wounds. Many home care providers, and even primary care physicians, do not have specialized knowledge regarding pressure wound treatment and prevention. RHI and the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation have partnered to facilitate the development of the Internet Pressure Ulcer Clinic, which makes it possible for home care providers to work in concert with a highly specialized team of medical specialists, located remotely. The Internet Pressure Ulcer Clinic uses the internet to transmit real-time digital photography and video, as well as dialog. In this way, the patient and his or her home care team receive the benefit of expert wound assessment and treatment information, while the remote medical experts have the benefit of seeing the patient in his or her home environment, which can impact treatment decisions.
The multi-centre study, began in 2010 and is currently ongoing. Initial findings from the study have demonstrated that this method is a feasible and cost-effective approach for pressure ulcer management with the potential to scale these services for long-term implementation.