COVID-19 Guidance for the Spinal Cord Injury Community

People living with a spinal cord injury often have a harder time with breathing and lung function. This information sheet has been put together to help you know what to do during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prevention of the Coronavirus

  • Practice social distancing (staying 6 feet away from others), avoid large groups, and stay home when possible. If you do stay home, it is important to know you are not alone and can access services or connect with your local SCI organization via phone, online or by other means.
  • Call your doctor before you visit to let them know if you are unwell and have other health concerns.
  • Wash your hands regularly with warm soap and water for 20-30 seconds.
  • Clean all surfaces regularly that you touch every day including your phone, joystick and wheelchair armrests, tray, push rims…
  • Prepare your Emergency Kit (see https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/pplwthdsblts/index-en.aspx)
  • Keep 30 days of medical supplies (catheters and dressing supplies) and medication on hand

Attendant Services Issues

  • Ensure attendants have not travelled to an affected area or outside of Canada in the last 14 days.
  • Send attendants home who are not well.
  • Ask attendants to wash their hands when they arrive and before they provide any assistance.
  • Be sure your attendants and you wash your hands after all assistance.
  • Have a back-up plan if your attendant does not come to work or is sick.
  • Read this article from public health Ontario regarding people providing assistance: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/factsheet-covid-19-guide-isolation-caregivers.pdf?la=en

If You Are Sick, or Think You Might Have COVID-19

  • Isolate yourself at home if you develop respiratory symptoms
  • Call your local public health authority for advice
  • Read this article from the Globe and Mail for information on symptoms: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-i-think-i-may-have-the-new-coronavirus-what-should-i-do/
  • If you have a spinal cord injury and use a ventilator, c-pap, or cough assist device, check this resource www.canventottawa.ca
  • Speak to your health care provider or respiratory therapist regarding what precautions you, your family and attendants should take in your home
  • Clean your equipment and replace filters regularly as per your device manual
  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of filters and tubing

Stay Informed

  • Check the advice from your local provincial health authority every 24-48 hours.

Resources

Note and Disclaimer

This guidance was created by experts in the SCI Community on March 12, 2020 in consultation with infectious disease specialists. This document is based on the best available evidence at the time of release. We can’t guarantee that the guidance is up to date or current as the pandemic is changing daily.