Unique worldwide: The Swiss Paraplegic Group's vision and network of services
The Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, which was founded in 1975 by the visionary and pioneer, Dr. Guido A. Zäch, has nowadays become a beacon organisation in the holistic rehabilitation of people with spinal paralysis.
The Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, along with its subsidiaries and affiliated organisations, provides a comprehensive and integrated network of services, encompassing all the relevant areas during all stages of life, with a view towards enabling patients to lead self-determined, fulfilled lives, with as great a sense of independence as possible.
Paraplegics and tetraplegics receive support in the form of contributions or preliminary financing towards aids, apparatus, equipment, car adaptations or uncovered hospital and care costs. Benefactors of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation are eligible to receive a benefit payment of CHF 200,000 quickly and without any undue complication in the event of spinal paralysis resulting from an accident and if they become permanently wheelchair-dependent. In addition, the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation runs its own facilities, such as the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Swiss Paraplegic Research and others which are required in order to safeguard the integrated network of services and to develop it further. The Foundation promotes the interests of the Swiss Paraplegics Association: It has signed a clear agreement with corresponding contributions with the umbrella organisation of Switzerland's 27 regional wheelchair clubs. Finally, it also provides support or funding for institutions, projects and events which fulfil the group's mission and objective and which promote the core interests of people with spinal paralysis.
One of the most important elements of the comprehensive chain of services is the highly specialised inpatient and outpatient medical care shown to paraplegics and tetraplegics throughout their lives. The Swiss Paraplegic Centre delivers all the services required for giving patients the best possible care throughout their lives. This goes from primary care to initial rehabilitation and on to comprehensive aftercare through to the end of their lives. Apart from the core medical areas like acute care, trauma centre, emergency service, intensive care unit, outpatient care unit, neuro-urology, or radiology, the SPC also has departments which specialise in paraplegiology, such as speech therapy, chiropractic services, physiotherapy, ergotherapy, nutritional advice, and lots more. Special attention is given to the care of patients during their stay. This is because the needs of paraplegics differ from those of other patient groups in many areas, for example, in relation to their care, diet, personal hygiene, and movement. Pivotal to all considerations and decisions is the person, his needs, his feelings, as well as the common goal.
Integration and lifelong support
The personal responsibility, self-determination, sense of independence, and love of life of people with spinal paralysis is the central objective of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation and its subsidiaries and sister organisations, together and in association with the patient. The basis and framework condition for a fulfilled life is integration into family and working life, as well as into society. A sense of self-worth comes about through tasks, life content and how people are deployed, whether or not they are in wheelchairs. Therefore, we are there for people with spinal paralysis in a practical sense from the scene of their accident to the end of their lives, assisting them with all the questions relating to their lives: integration into working life, family, shaping their leisure time, sport, and sexuality, as well as with specific issues such as legal and insurance matters or in relation to obstacle-free building. The results are clear to see: we have helped thousands of paraplegics and tetraplegics to lead a fulfilled life. More than 80 per cent of those affected go back to lead a normal working life and are fully integrated into family and society.
Society and politics are changing environments; technical and technological possibilities develop, and treatment options are becoming ever more extensive. The requirements of other people and of patients are not standing still either. We use clinical, holistic and social rehabilitation and functional research to ascertain how developments of all kinds affect the quality of life of people with spinal paralysis and anticipate future trends in all the relevant fields in order to make considered advancements in the comprehensive network of services of the entire Swiss Paraplegic Group.