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The Journal of Spinal Surgery


Introduction: Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is an emerging public health problem reaching epidemic proportions. Reduced functional capacity after SCI not only affects the quality of life (QOL) of the patient, but also creates an added social, financial, and psychological burden on the family. Caregiver is responsible for providing the patient with physical, emotional, and functional support. Therefore, the increasing burden on the caregiver worsens all the domains constituting the QOL of the patient. Thus, the understanding of caregiver burden in terms of demographic profile of caregivers, severity of SCI, cost of care, mode of treatment adopted, and employment and education of the caregiver is important in the rehabilitation of patients with SCI.

Materials and methods: A cross-sectional analytical questionnaire survey was performed with 50 SCI patients and their primary caregivers at a tertiary care institution between June and September 2016. The caregiver burden was assessed using the Zarit burden interview scale, and its relation with severity of injury and type of treatment was analyzed using nonparametric statistics. The demographic variables influencing caregiver burden were also studied.

Results: About 38% of patients had complete SCI. About 34% of caregivers of patients were their own spouse. The mean age of caregiver was 42.9 ± 1.2 years. The majority (44%) of caregivers had moderate burden. Completeness of SCI significantly influenced caregiver burden (p = 0.02). Type of treatment adopted did not influence the caregiver burden (p = 0.52). Employment status and education of caregiver were found to be significantly associated with caregiver burden (p = 0.001 and p = 0.046 respectively).

Conclusion: Caregivers had significant burden of care in terms of severity of SCI. Age, employment status, education, and marital status affect caregiving burden. We hope the results of the study will guide experimental research in this field, motivating the health care professionals in providing early psychological intervention leading to positive belief and attitude change in society. The study will encourage society in focusing on community-based rehabilitation, which can potentially reduce the overall burden.

Keywords: Burden, Caregiver, Spinal cord injury, Traumatic.

How to cite this article: Gopal VV, Baburaj PT, Balakrishnan PK. Caregiver’s Burden in Rehabilitation of Patients with Neurological Deficits following Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury. J Spinal Surg 2017;4(1):9-13.

Source of support: Nil

Conflict of interest: None

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