Early intervention impossible for spinal cord injured people in remote and regional Australia

Monday, May 01, 2017

The Spinal Network Expert Meeting held in Darwin on 7 April 2017 was an initiative of the Spinal Network and partly funded by the Northern Territory Motor Accidents Compensation Commission and Keep Moving. Participants included clinicians from the spinal unit in Adelaide, representatives from the Department of Health in NT, politicians, community groups, paramedics and emergency, and remote medicine specialists.

The Expert Meeting was conceptualised as a strategic activity to facilitate discussions on early intervention for people suffering a spinal cord injury in remote and regional Australia and to continue the discussion on the difficulties encountered treating acute spinal cord injuries and providing subsequent follow up services in Central and Northern Australia.

The meeting was commenced by a foreword of Chris Bertinshaw, CEO of the Spinal Network. The introduction included an outline of the objectives of the Spinal Network and what the Network hoped to achieve with organising this meeting. To initiate discussions, the group was provided with two hypotheses:

  1. People who suffer a SCI in remote and regional Australia end up with the poorest functional outcomes due to the time it takes to get to a spinal cord unit.
  2. People living with a SCI in regional or remote Australia have less medical follow up and poorer health outcomes due to the difficulty in attending out patient clinics.

The attendees were encouraged to identify issues, possible solutions and future action points for both hypotheses. The following three hours, the group discussed numerous issues encountered by those involved in treating people with SCI in NT. Identified problems covered areas such as; staffing, community differences, the lack of a clear overall picture of the problem, outdated and incomplete guidelines and the rollout of the NDIS. While discussing the issues, the group also identified possible solutions and suggested areas of improvement. 

Click for a SUMMARY of the meeting. Click for a REPORT of the meeting.

For PHOTO GALLERY click here

Go Back