Treating Pain after SCI

As a clinician, one of the patient complaints we most often find ourselves trying to help solve is that of chronic pain; and in the case of patients that have survived spinal cord injury (SCI), this can be an especially intense and pervasive issue.  

Pain after SCI 

After spinal cord injury pain is a frequent complication with approximately half to two-thirds of patients suffering from pain. Click here to read a 2021 systematic review of the literature surrounding pain after SCI. According to this report, “More than 50% of patients with SCI suffered chronic pain within 1 year after SCIand in another report of spinal cord injury survivors where 1305 records were screened and 37 met inclusion criteria, the pooled prevalence of overall chronic pain was 68%. Click here to read that report. 

The impacts of Pain after SCI and How to Attack It

According to the 2021 review by Wang et al introduced above, “The presence of chronic pain seriously affects the patients’ daily life and...Chronic pain in SCI is related to great emotional distress, and pain hinders the ability of SCI patients to participate in active rehabilitation programs.” 

With all this data regarding the incidence and impact of chronic pain in this population, it is imperative that we find avenues to help guide our patients to a better quality of life. The Reeve foundation has a comprehensive article that highlights ways to overcome pain after SCI. The article notes that“individuals living with SCI who underwent a regular exercise program showed significant improvement in pain scores, as well as improved depression scores. Even light to moderate walking or swimming can contribute to an overall sense of well-being by improving blood and oxygen flow to tense, weak muscles. Less stress equals less pain.” 

How the ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton can help Pain after SCI 

Beyond the obvious correlation one could make between the recommendation for exercise in general (and walking specifically), and the intended purpose of the ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton- this 2012 paper from Esquenazi et al noted that, “Both the measured and self-reported data seem to support the premise that consistent ReWalk use has a positive impact on pain.” 

To further support this finding, this 2016 analysis by Stampacchia et al of the psychological and physical impact of gait training with powered robotic exoskeletons in persons after SCI concluded: “After the walking session a significant decrease in the muscle spasticity and pain intensity was observed” and “The overground robot-assisted walking is well accepted by SCI persons.”

And to support these research findings on a more personal level, longtime ReWalker and US Veteran Gene L. has experienced significant pain relief and ability to utilize less pain medication with his ReWalk Exoskeleton assisted walking program, “My pain levels went down. It kind of freed me and broke the chains from the painkillers. As I started using the ReWalk, I am noticing less and less pain.” Click here to watch an inspiring video of Gene’s story.

Additional Resources for treating Pain after SCI

Reach us here  for further information on the ReWalk Exoskeleton and the process to pursue a device for yourself or to offer exoskeleton training at your rehabilitation clinic. 

Click here to check out past episodes of our webcast, Topics in Neurorehabilitation, for an array of helpful information surrounding personal exoskeleton prescription, use, etc. 

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