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Racial Factors Contribute to Post-Spinal Cord Injury Care

According to an analysis of various scenarios, racial and ethnic factors may contribute to care and behavior in post-spinal cord and brain injury care.

Spinal injury outcomes could be affected by race and ethnicity, according to research published in Neurorehabilitation.

Researchers from the Kessler Foundation noted that with recent minority population growths, more minorities are included in spinal cord injury result samples. The risk for brain injury is higher; therefore, the likelihood for poorer outcomes is as well.

“While translating research to evidence-based treatments is an important pathway, clinical practice can also identify issues that need to be addressed through research,” Anthony Lequerica, PhD, research scientist for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research at Kessler, said in a press release. “As our culture diversifies, providing effective care depends on acquiring the skills to deal with cultural factors that relate to ethnicity, religion, language, sexual orientation and religion.”

The authors delve into various clinical scenarios that explain how factors of diversity influence behavior in recovering brain and spinal cord injury patients. The scenarios also include responses from the rehabilitation staffs. The goal of the paper is to raise awareness among clinicians and caregivers and to stimulate research ideas.

“Raising cultural awareness among researchers and clinicians is essential to developing patient-centered interventions that reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for all patients with brain injury,” Lequerica, who is also a co-investigator at the Northern New Jersey TBI Model System, concluded. “We also need more studies that examine the interactions of complex cultural factors with individuals, providers and the environment.”

The researchers hope their paper highlights the importance of being able to see post-brain injury behavior. The authors believe that acknowledging cultural and contextual factors is the first step down a long road of creating culturally-competent rehabilitation practices.