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Rehabilitation needs of persons discharged from an African trauma center

A Christian
M González-Fernández
RS Mayer
AJ Haig


Background: The study prospectively assessed the functional impairments and rehabilitation needs of Africans admitted to a regional trauma center. It also acts as a pilot study to demonstrate the practical use of the Language Independent Functional Evaluation (L.I.F.E.) software in an acute hospital setting.
Methods: A 5 page questionnaire was used to gather demographic data (age, sex, medical diagnosis, education, housing type, place of residency, occupation), cause of disability/injury, severity of disability or functional impairment, and rehabilitation treatment received (types of rehab, frequency of treatment, duration of therapy, follow up therapy, equipment). Functional status on discharge was evaluated with the L.I.F.E. scale.
Results: 84 consecutive consenting subjects were recorded. The predominant disability/injury of respondents involved the lower extremities (70%), followed by upper extremities (23%). The mechanisms of injury were largely related to auto accidents (69%). Falls made up 17% of these injuries and 14% were related to violence. Eleven subjects had disability measured using L.I.F.E and all were classified as having major disabilities. Only 14 patients (17%) received any rehabilitation therapy which consisted of only physical therapy provided at a frequency of once a day for less than one week duration.
Conclusion: This study found that most persons admitted to a sophisticated trauma unit in Ghana are discharged without adequate rehabilitation services, and that the level of disability experienced by these people can be measured,  even while they are still sick and in the hospital, using L.I.F.E. The implications are clear: African trauma systems must measure the long term outcomes from their treatments and provide the inpatient medical rehabilitation services that are a standard of care for trauma victims elsewhere in the world.

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eISSN: 1937-8688