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This resource is for clinicians, particularly occupational therapists, working with people with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Clinicians can find more information and guidance here to:

  • assess the needs of a person with an SCI
  • make recommendations for equipment and home modifications to assist them.

Some information referenced is specific to NSW, however the majority should also be applicable in other states and territories.

This information is mainly for clinicians who occasionally work with patients with an SCI, to assist them with navigating options. The list of equipment and home modifications is not exhaustive.


An Overview of Occupational Therapy Intervention for Adults with Spinal Cord Injury was last released in 2013. The resource has been updated in 2021 by occupational therapists with expertise working with people with spinal cord injury from Royal North Shore Hospital, Royal Rehab, Prince of Wales Hospital and NSW Spinal Outreach Service.


Data for this resource were drawn from a literature search, guideline review and consensus expert opinion of the working party.

Literature search

A rapid review of Medline was conducted in September 2020. Key search terms included: spinal cord injuries OR paraplegia OR quadriplegia and occupational therapy or physical Therapy. Snowball searches were conducted from the reference lists of key articles.

Additional searches were completed of the OT seeker and PEDro evidence databases.

Guideline review

Guidelines for SCI care are produced by different SCI services. Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Evidence (SCIRE) and Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine (Paralyzed Veterans of America) have developed clinical guidelines that informed this work.

Further information

  • The International Spinal Cord Society has developed learning modules on SCI management for all disciplines. The occupational therapy module focuses on developing OT skills specific to SCI, and includes videos, case studies and interactive activities.
    International Spinal Cord Society. International Spinal Cord Society. 2012 [cited 21 March 2021].
  • The SCIRE Project Version 6.0 ‘reviews, evaluates, and translates existing research knowledge into a clear and concise format to inform health professionals and other stakeholders of best rehabilitation practices following SCI’.
    Spinal Cord Injury Research Evidence Team. The SCIRE Project. Vancouver: Spinal Cord Injury Research Evidence Team; 2020 [cited 21 March 2021].

Produced by: State Spinal Cord Injury Service

SHPN: (ACI) 140011

ISBN: 978-1-74187-957-5

Version:Trim: ACI/D21/2329

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