Spinal Cord Injuries
At the Spinal Cord Injury Unit, part of the Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine Department, we offer comprehensive care to patients with acute spinal cord injury and pathologies derived from chronic spinal cord injury, such as pressure wounds, acute respiratory failure, urinary infections with sepsis, autonomic dysreflexia, among others.
At the Spinal Cord Injury Unit, we seek to treat people with spinal cord injuries in order to alleviate the related disability and, therefore, improve the quality of life, health and social participation of patients. Here, patients receive comprehensive care for all the deficiencies and disabilities that can be caused by a spinal cord injury.
Every year, the Spinal Cord Injury Unit receives more than 80 patients with acute spinal cord injuries. We also admit about 60 patients with chronic spinal cord injuries to treat complications. Outpatient clinics cover around 1,400 patients, with 200 initial visits yearly, 1,200 subsequent visits and 200 visits from other hospitals.
We have a team of specialised multidisciplinary professionals: rehabilitation doctors who are experts in spinal cord injuries, nurses, clinical assistants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, phoniatricians, speech therapists and social workers, along with other professionals from other hospital departments, such as the ICU, Spinal Surgery and Neurosurgery. Our mission is to make a referral to the hospital in the best conditions, with early diagnosis and personalised rehabilitation treatments.
A&E and EMS now follow a system of protocols, both for adult and paediatric patients, and care for spinal cord injury has been standardised, taking into account all the professionals who will be handling the disability.
We also take into account the neurological level and seriousness of the injury in order to reduce the hospital stay and achieve the best possible functionality, always including patients and their families.
This collaboration between the professionals involved takes place at clinical sessions twice a week and at the sessions with the rachis surgery team once a week, where the case of the acute patient is commented on and decisions are made about the most appropriate surgical treatments for each vertebral fracture.
The Spinal Cord Injury Unit is a reference centre in Catalonia, Andorra and the Balearic Islands in the care of patients with acute spinal cord injuries. We offer treatment and teach medical residents studying Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine in Catalonia, and we are also very active in research.
Clinical follow-up of people with acute spinal cord injury accounts for 40% of research carried out by the Department, which is reflected in the growing number of articles published and their impact over recent years.
The Spinal Cord Injury Unit participates in international clinical trials related to acute spinal cord injuries. We are currently conducting the first international trial with mesenchymal cells in acute injuries, in coordination with surgery of the spinal column and neurosurgery, which is funded by a joint venture between a pharmaceutical company and a biotechnology laboratory.
The teaching activity of the Spinal Cord Injury Unit covers undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education of professionals in the field of spinal cord injuries. Another highlight is our organisation and management of an online training programme through the 4Doctors web platform.
We also have a preferential agreement with the Step By Step foundation, which organises an International Spinal Cord Repair Meeting (ISCORE) every two years, where the latest advances in basic and applied research are presented.
Fermín Fernández Álvarez, Porter Coordinator, explains the importance of the role these professionals play in the hospital. After 36 years at Vall d’Hebron, Fermín is a real master of the ways things are done. He says that a porter has to combine humility, discretion and safety with a single goal: that patients receive human and friendly treatment.
The constant search for excellence is part of Hospital Vall d’Hebron’s nature. The biggest hospital in Catalonia and the leader in many fields, headed since February 2015 by Dr. Vicenç Martínez Ibáñez, who has a close personal and professional relationship with the Hospital. Dr. Martínez Ibáñez says that if Vall d’Hebron did not exist, it would need to be invented. The current director trained at the hospital, where he was one of the protagonists of an historic moment: the first paediatric liver transplant in Spain. Now, he is committed to continuing this legacy and, always putting the patient first, achieving excellence across all staff.
The Neonatology Department’s Sibling Project is a workshop for the siblings of new-born babies admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in the Vall d’Hebron Maternity and Children's Hospital. Through simulated games and situations, the project prepares them to get used to seeing their younger siblings in a hospital medical setting.
Vall d’Hebron University Hospital’s kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals a day, twice a day, not counting breakfast. A reality that José Parrilla and Carmina Esteban know all too well.From three kitchens to one and from coal to gas. That is how the hospital’s catering service has evolved. A place where the needs of each patient must be taken into account and where there is room for small, juicy anecdotes.
The former head of the Thoracic Surgery Department, Dr. Mercè Canela, recently retired, recalls the important evolution of the Department to become a leader in Spain and a lung transplant pioneer. A task made possible thanks to collaboration with professionals from other departments, an added value in the personal and team environment.
Rosalia Moure arrived at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in 1967. She spent her entire working life in the linen and laundry department of the Hospital. Rosalia Moure has witnessed the Hospital’s big transformations, from dictatorship to democracy and from analogue to digital systems.
Dr. Josep Sánchez de Toledo Codina, head of the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Department, tells us about a Department that has laid the foundations for the specialism in Spain. He also remembers the evolution of transplants from haematopoietic stem cells and progenitors, from the beginning, buying the material at a shop in Barcelona city centre, to the more than 1,200 transplants that have now been performed.