Audrey Hicks: 2013 PVA Education Foundation Grant Recipient
Optimizing the Transition into Community-based Exercise after Spinal Cord Injury
Audrey Hicks, PhD
There is good evidence supporting the benefit of regular participation in twice-weekly exercise to improve fitness, independence and quality of life, as well as likely decreasing the risk of secondary health complications common to people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Despite this evidence, we have found that two of the biggest challenges preventing people with SCI from engaging in regular community-based exercise after discharge from rehabilitation relate to one’s knowledge and awareness of exercise programs in their community and their confidence in their ability to participate in exercise.
This proposal focuses on addressing these challenges by supporting the creation of a Community Exercise Facilitator position, whose focus will be on educating newly injured in-patients on the importance of exercise following SCI, facilitating the transition from a hospital rehabilitation setting to a specialized community exercise program, and ensuring regular on-site support for exercise during the important first four months following discharge from rehabilitation. Having a dedicated individual to aid in the transition from in-patient care to community exercise programming will facilitate an effective continuation of care after discharge and motivate patients to embrace exercise as part of their lifelong rehabilitation after SCI.