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Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

Burke Receives $48,000 for Spinal Cord Injury Pilot Program

September 17, 2019

Burke Rehabilitation Hospital recently received a $48,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to support a pilot program aimed at helping spinal cord injury patients transition from inpatient care to outpatient rehabilitation.

The grant will fund Burke’s implementation of the Pt Pal app, a cloud-based clinical patient engagement platform that enables physicians, therapists and other clinicians to manage patient care between visits by sending customized treatment plans, education, therapies, home exercise activities and surveys directly to a patient or caregiver’s mobile or tablet device.

“Rehabilitation is a long and extensive process for individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI). Keeping them motivated, supported and medically monitored is the key in this journey of rehabilitation,” Burke Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Mooyeon Oh-Park, MD, MS said. “This project is to facilitate a seamless care transition from inpatient to a community setting and cultivate a healthy lifestyle in this population by incorporating innovative, interactive and easily accessible technology. We are incredibly grateful that the Neilsen Foundation supports us in this effort.” 

Pt Pal may help patients and caregivers overcome the potential barriers they face when returning home and improve the transition of care from inpatient to outpatient settings and community reintegration. Therapists will prescribe exercises and education during therapy sessions which will be uploaded into the Pt Pal app. The pilot participants will then do these exercises 3-4 times a week at home in between their therapy sessions. They or their caregivers then log the exercises as completed in the app and clinicians can monitor activity levels by the repetitions completed.

In addition to utilizing the patient or caregiver’s smartphone or tablet to use the Pt Pal app, which is cost-saving, portable and convenient, participants in this project will also be provided with a Fitbit Alta HR watch so they can further monitor their daily activity and heart rate levels. Fitbit communicates directly into Pt Pal so the activity and movement data recorded by the watch will be transmitted into the app to provide a more robust assessment on movement. Recording their completed exercises, monitoring their activity levels and seeing their progress will help the patient feel more motivated to stay in compliance with their therapy plan as well as feel connected to a virtual community, which may help to reduce feelings of social isolation.

The Pt Pal initiative is just the latest example of how Burke continues to innovate in the field of rehabilitative medicine.

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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