Push to Walk Board Member Creates Quality Assessment Survey to Help Future Spinal Cord Injured Persons

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Push to Walk, an Oakland based non-profit for people with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis is pleased to work with its newest board member, Dr. Catherine Mazzola on an important survey to benefit the paralysis community.

Catherine Mazzola, MD

Spinal cord injury is a traumatic event for the patient and the family...Very often, the family or even the patient are confused about the diagnosis, the prognosis, and the plan. Even with the best discharge planning, sometimes families and patients report a need for more information.

Dr. Catherine Mazzola, a pediatric neurosurgeon, Alaba Sotayo, a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School student, and Push to Walk staff designed a survey for case managers and social workers to assess what procedures and resources are utilized for paralysis patients and their families on discharge.

Dr. Mazzola joined Push to Walk’s Board of Trustees in October 2017 and determined that her role as a board member would best be utilized by her knowledge and expertise in the medical field. The project came to fruition in February 2018 after Ms. Sotayo began an internship with Dr. Mazzola with the hope of completing a clinical research project.

Dr. Mazzola and Ms. Sotayo along with Push to Walk’s staff were able to create the survey in hopes of making improvements that benefit populations served by Push to Walk. “Spinal cord injury is a traumatic event for the patient and the family. Often, the acute care phase in the hospital involves stabilization, sometimes surgery, and then transfer to inpatient rehabilitation. Very often, the family or even the patient are confused about the diagnosis, the prognosis, and the plan. Even with the best discharge planning, sometimes families and patients report a need for more information”, said Dr. Mazzola. Push to Walk was tasked to think back to past conversations with clients and to speak to current clients about their experiences to help develop the appropriate topics and questions useful for the survey.

The team is currently in the process of creating a list of local social workers and discharge planners in the State of New Jersey. Dr. Mazzola stated, “we believe a study to assess the challenges that exist and the resources available for social workers and discharge planners in acute care facilities would be a useful, preliminary investigation. There are some hospital systems that have developed shareable resources, but to develop educational resources, first we need to explore, document, and better define the need for information.”

Dr. Catherine Mazzola is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery. Dr. Mazzola is the founder of the Craniofacial Center at Goryeb Children’s Hospital, the Pediatric Brain and Spine Tumor Center and the Spasticity and Gait Disorder Center of Goryeb Children’s Hospital. She has been the Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurological Surgery since 2005. She is also involved in mentorship, training and education of pre-medical undergraduates, medical school students, and residents. Ms. Alaba Sotayo is currently under Dr. Mazzola’s supervision for an internship. She developed a strong interest in neuroscience during an opportunity to join a research lab in high school. Ms. Sotayo has since gone on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus in Neuroscience and is currently enrolled at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, New Jersey.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Lajam at 201-644-7567 or visit the Push to Walk website: http://www.pushtowalknj.org.

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About Push to Walk

Founded in 2007, Push to Walk is an organization that provides individualized workouts and resources to people with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis to optimize current quality of life and to prepare for future medical advancements. It is the only program of its kind in the New York-New Jersey area. Push to Walk's rigorous one-on-one workout approach challenges clients to reach their personal goals and achieve maximum independence, leading to greater success and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives. A 501(C)3 non-profit, Push to Walk is located in Oakland, New Jersey. Visit http://www.pushtowalknj.org to learn more.

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Stephanie Lajam
Push to Walk
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