By Kate Hunger
Learning that an article she co-authored is among the most read, cited and shared from the 2018-2019 international journal Spinal Cord gives Assistant Professor Ana Allegretti, Ph.D., OTR, hope that clinical care for patients with spinal cord injuries is improving.
The article, “Predictors of pressure ulcer incidence following traumatic spinal cord injury: a secondary analysis of a prospective longitudinal study,” centered on a study conducted as part of a broader project by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. The study aimed to identify factors leading to pressure ulcer formation in patients with spinal cord injuries during acute hospitalization and inpatient rehabilitation.
Pressure ulcers are the second most frequent secondary complication that people with spinal cord injuries experience when in acute care, Allegretti notes.
“It is important for health care providers, especially those in acute care, to understand what are the risk factors that can be associated with pressure ulcers developing while these patients are in acute care,” she says.
Researchers found that patients with pneumonia and mechanical ventilation developed pressure ulcers that were more severe and that patients with high-severity spinal cord injury were 4.5 times more likely to develop pressure ulcers than were patients with less-severe spinal cord injuries. Thirty-nine of the 104 subjects in the study formed at least one pressure ulcer while in acute care and inpatient rehabilitation.
“What’s really nice to learn from this is that if this paper is being cited, this is the type of research we should be focused on doing,” she says. “As researchers, we want to provide useable evidence that people need to know. This means this paper is being useful and people are reading and hopefully, the healthcare providers are taking measures such as positioning patients better or following the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel protocol. That’s what we want to see. Hopefully they are using this paper to improve clinical care.”