On August 29 nearly 1,000 physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, therapists, researchers, pharmacists, dietitians, and educators will converge near Washington, DC, for Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (Paralyzed Veterans) Summit 2017, an annual conference that advances the level of care of veterans living with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D).
Now in its 7th year, the annual Summit supports Paralyzed Veterans’ mission that every veteran living with SCI/D should have access to holistic care individually tailored to address their spectrum of needs.
Hosting Summit year after year is a substantial investment for Paralyzed Veterans, but for Lana McKenzie, Associate Executive Director of Medical Services, it’s pretty straightforward.
“We host Summit because strengthening healthcare for our most catastrophically disabled veterans matters above all else. Paralyzed Veterans is an expert voice on the complex healthcare challenges these veterans face, and in partnership with the VA we train for the best clinicians because we want the best for our veterans.”
Often individuals with SCI/D develop secondary conditions, and chronic health problems associated with this degenerative disease and require habitual care. When care is not a coordinated approach, those conditions can reduce the quality of life, and in some cases can become life-threatening.
Clinicians will spend three days presenting best practices, evidence-based models and sharing experiences with their peers who face similar challenges in caring for people with paralysis and the peripheral issues it can cause.
Summit features renowned specialists in spinal cord injury and disease medicine targeting MS, ALS and this year adding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as another unique signature injury of the recent conflicts overseas. Speakers include experts in care integration; community-based care; crisis intervention, suicide prevention and other aspects of mental health care. Presentations will highlight the latest developments in clinical practice, research, and emerging technologies.
Speakers and attendees come from diverse disciplines and wide experiences, but what most have in common is that they are from VA hospitals. Veterans receiving so much of their care in a centralized system means that VA is the de facto expert in managing paralysis-related syndromes from injury through life. Through this partnership and Paralyzed Veteran’s work to constantly push level of care on many fronts, including hosting Summit, Paralyzed Veterans sets the standard in Clinical Practice Guidelines for healthcare practitioners and others who care for individuals living with SCI/D.
The years of leading this research and refining clinical practices have led to life-changing outcomes: at Paralyzed Veterans founding in 1946, life expectancy for paralyzed veterans was only 18 months to a few years following injury.
Now, thanks to lessons learned and shared in forums like Summit, and the health care resources and lifestyle accommodations Paralyzed Veterans provides to this population, veterans living with SCI/D are thriving well into their 90’s.