clinical pathway, family unit, multidisciplinary team, quadriplegia, spinal cord injury, spinal shock



  1. Mitcho, Karen RN, MSN, CCRN
  2. Yanko, Janette R. RN, MN, CNRN


Meeting the health care needs of the spinal cord-injured patient is an immense challenge for the acute care multidisciplinary team. The critical care nurse clinician, as well as other members of the team, needs to maintain a comprehensive knowledge base to provide the care management that is essential to the care of the spinal cord-injured patient. With the active participation of the patient and family in care delivery decisions, the health care professionals can help to meet the psychosocial and physical needs of the patient/family unit. This article provides an evidence-based, comprehensive review of the needs of the spinal cord-injured patient in the acute care setting including optimal patient outcomes, methods to prevent complications, and a plan that provides an expeditious transition to rehabilitation.