Grant Application

Becky Kennedy, RN, of UPMC Mercy Spinal Cord Injury Unit


Proposed Innovation

The main goal of inpatient rehabilitation is to teach patients with a disability to be as independent as possible after discharge. This is particularly challenging for individuals with spinal cord injuries resulting in quadriplegia. Since they require a significant amount of physical assistance, it is critically important to teach these patients how to direct the care provided by others after discharge.

At the UPMC Mercy Spinal Cord Injury Unit, patients who are unable to hold or turn pages of written reading material will be provided the “Yes You Can!” manual in audio form loaded onto a voice-activated Microsoft Surface™ Pro tablet. Not only will this project improve accessibility and increase patient understanding of their condition, it also will help them feel more confident about asking for and directing their care needs.


Improvements in Action

Through the Beckwith Institute grant with matching funds from the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, specialized software will be used to create an audio version of the “Yes You Can!” manual. The program will be loaded onto Microsoft Surface™ Pros for use by patients paralyzed with quadriplegia. Nursing staff, who will set up the tablets for patients when they are not in therapy, will use it to present information in audio format and to answer questions about medical issues and needs, including cathing, bowel therapy, and wound care.


Results — In Progress

The program will be conducted as a one-year pilot study. Making the manual more accessible to patients is expected to result in better outcomes: longer lives, fewer complications following discharge, and generally healthier patients.

The project will become part of the therapy curriculum of the Mercy Spinal Cord Injury Unit. If successful, it can be adapted for other rehabilitation initiatives.