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State Spinal Cord Injury Service

Spinal Seating Modules

Seeking assistance in NSW

In the event that a local therapist is assigned a client with seating needs more complex than they feel comfortable with treating on their own there are Spinal Seating Service that can be contacted and involved. In many cases a well-known client may experience a change in circumstances such that the complexity of their seating needs increases. A clinician will recognise when seating complexity has increased beyond their capacity or resource to manage and when a seating specialist should be involved.

In NSW, the Statewide Spinal Cord Injury Service provides specialised assistance for spinal clients across a range of areas including seating needs. Spinal cord injury clients with complex seating needs can be referred directly to one of the NSW Health specialist seating clinics. Rural clients should also be flagged with the regional Rural Spinal Cord Injury Coordinator, who is well placed to link the client with local services as needed.

Referrals to the Spinal Seating Services are indicated for clients with:

  • Unmanageable discomfort or skin marking
  • Non-healing, sitting-acquired pressure injuries
  • A history of recurrent pressure injuries
  • Previous surgical interventions relating to pressure injuries
  • Significant postural deformities
  • An inability to maintain a good seating posture throughout the day
  • Custom-fabricated products that require replacement, such as: cushions, custom-made backrests, armrests and foot supports
  • Complex postural and functional needs where commercial products are not able to meet the desired outcome, or
  • Dependence on a respiratory ventilator.

When referring a spinal client to the Rural Coordinator or Spinal Seating Service it is important to provide essential information up front to convey an understanding of the client’s current situation and what clinical outcomes are sought. The best way to convey this information is by using a standardised referral process. The referral process ensures that a base level of essential information is provided up front.

A good referral provides the receiving therapist with sufficient information to properly understand the basics of the client’s situation, current equipment (where relevant), and specific issues that have prompted clinical intervention and what outcomes are being sought.

  • Minimum client data set required from your medical record system
  • Diagnosis and current health status
  • Funding source and details
  • Social and care arrangements
  • Reasons for referral
  • Referrer details
  • Details of the current seating and mobility system, including product name and sizes
  • Photographs
  • Previously trialled or used system(s) and outcomes.