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Informal Caregivers' Perceptions of Facilitators of Successful Weight Management for People With Spinal Cord Injury.

Pedersen JP, Ehrlich-Jones LS, Heinemann AW, LaVela SL. Informal Caregivers' Perceptions of Facilitators of Successful Weight Management for People With Spinal Cord Injury. The American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association. 2023 May 1; 77(3).

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IMPORTANCE: Informal caregivers have valuable insights that occupational therapists can use to prevent and manage problems that may arise in people with spinal cord injury (SCI) because of a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. OBJECTIVE: To assess caregiver-identified facilitators of weight management in people with SCI. DESIGN: Descriptive qualitative design using semistructured interviews and thematic analysis. SETTING: Regional SCI Care Model System and Veterans Health Administration. PARTICIPANTS: Informal caregivers (n = 24) of people with SCI. OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Facilitators of successful weight management in care recipients with SCI. RESULTS: Four themes were identified as weight management facilitators: healthy eating (subthemes: food content, self-control, self-management, and healthy preinjury lifestyle), exercise and therapy (subthemes: occupational and physical therapy, receiving assistance, and resources for exercise), accessibility, and leisure activity or activities of daily living, the latter described as a source of activity (because of required energy expenditure) to facilitate weight management for people with more severe injuries. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These findings can inform the development of successful weight management plans by occupational therapists by incorporating feedback from informal caregivers. Because caregivers are involved in many of the facilitators identified, occupational therapists should communicate with the dyad about sourcing accessible places to increase physical activity and assessing in-person assistance and assistive technology needs to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Occupational therapists can use informal caregiver-identified facilitators of weight management to help prevent and manage problems for people with SCI secondary to limited activity and poor nutrition. What This Article Adds: Occupational therapy practitioners provide therapeutic intervention to people with SCI; this includes attention to weight management from the time of initial injury throughout their lives. This article is novel in the presentation of informal caregivers' perceptions about successful facilitators of weight management among people with SCI, which is important because caregivers are intimately involved in the daily activities of people with SCI and can be a liaison for occupational therapists and other health care providers about ways to facilitate healthy eating and physical activity.

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