Two new studies have recently been published that could offer new hope for patients with spinal cord injuries. The information they offer could help patients recover better from their injuries and stay healthier in the long run.
One study focused on people who had recently been diagnosed with a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) and the effects of animal-assisted therapy. Specifically, researchers in Alabama teamed up with an animal-assisted therapy dog provider to see what effect the dogs would have on the psychological state of patients facing life-altering injuries and a long recovery.
It’s well-known that the physical and mental effects of an SCI are both difficult for patients to endure. Depression and anxiety are common among victims. A trial study indicates that dog-assisted therapy can reduce both the physical signs of stress in patients and their self-reported levels of stress — especially during the initial therapy session.
A second study out of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center looked at the role diet can play in preserving the health and well-being of people with traumatic spinal cord injuries.
Using of a food diary and remote counseling, patients were able to lose weight and improve their overall quality of life. Excess weight can be hard for people with mobility issues to lose and chronic health conditions can result. For example, cardiovascular disease causes 228% more fatalities among people with spinal cord injuries than among those without.
Both studies may offer new ways for doctors and other health providers to approach the way they provide care for spinal cord injuries. While they may each provide small gains, every little thing is important when you’re recovering from a catastrophic spinal injury.