Patients’ Perception of Environmental Control Units: A Pilot Study on Experiences of Patients with Cervical Spine Injuries

Authors : Dr. Hetal Jagdishkumar Tripathi; Dr. Titiksh Vijeshkumar Varma

Volume/Issue : Volume 6 - 2021, Issue 7 - July

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Environmental control unit (ECU) permits remote control of electronic devices for the individuals’ surroundings such as their home temperature and entertainment systems. This allows a person to turn on or off lights, a radio or television, and use a phone and or unlock a door from a remote or other room location. Any part of the person’s environment can be controlled depending upon the system’s complexity. It enables independence for physically and functionally disabled clients, and reduces burden and frequency of demands on care- givers. Aim: To assess the perception of patients with cervical spine injuries at Government Spine Institute after using environmental control units. Methods: Twenty (20) patients with cervical spine injuries were approached for the study. 12 of 20 patients were selected for the study on the basis of inclusion and exclusion criteria. A brief questionnaire was given to the patients when they just got admitted to the hospital. Occupational therapists gave ECUs training to them on daily basis in occupational therapy department for 1month. The same questionnaire was filled up again when they got discharge. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results: The majority of respondents reported using ECUs in hospital-based treatment with the patients with cervical spinal cord injuries. However, a few respondents only recommended ECUs for home use. High cost and the lack of support from government or third- party reimbursement were the primary reasons that deterred respondents from recommending ECUs for home use. Fifty-five percent of the respondents reported a need for basic training and more in-depth education and training in environmental control technologies. Discussion & Conclusion: ECUs were well accepted by the patients with cervical spinal cord injuries in the inpatient setting, and increased patients’ perceptions of independence. To maximise usability and satisfaction, facilities should ensure that comprehensive training on ECU use and features available is offered to all patients, and resources are available for timely troubleshooting and maintenance. The future study can be done with a larger sample size to increase the effectiveness of the study. Outcomes data are needed to support the use of ECUs and to educate government and third-party payers about the benefits of ECUs for clients with quadriplegia in order to increase rates of reimbursement

Keywords : Environmental Control Unit, Cervical Spine Injuries, Quadriplegia.


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