Date Presented 04/21/2023

This poster will detail the findings of a mixed-methods research study to inform OT practitioners on the unique needs of farmers with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Primary Author and Speaker: Lauren Rainone

Contributing Authors: Mary Hildebrand, Robin Tutor Marcom

It is estimated that about 300 farmers or ranchers acquire a spinal cord injury (SCI) each year. It is vital for those farmers who return to farming do so safely while preventing secondary injuries. Minimal literature has been identified regarding the experiences of farmers with SCI and how to prevent pressure ulcers by using appropriate seat cushions on farm equipment. This study examined the types of seat cushions that North Carolina farmers with SCI use on their farm equipment and their experiences with pressure ulcers. Purposive sampling was used to recruit farmers with SCI who had an established relationship with the NC AgrAbility Partnership (NCAP), a collaborative program of the NC Agromedicine Institute. Participants were selected from the NCAP’s case management database if they had an incomplete or complete SCI at any level of injury (C1-S5). A convergent mixed methods design, with ex post facto quantitative and phenomenological qualitative data collection, was used to explore the study objectives. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire. Of those participants who returned to work and had access to farm equipment, 4 of 5 (80%) did not use a specialized seat cushion on their farm equipment and 4 of 5 (80%) developed at least one pressure ulcer. Key themes were (1) barriers to farming, (2) strong desire to return to farming, (3) lack of specialized seat cushions used on farm equipment, (4) assistive technology used on farm equipment, (5) use of other strategies to prevent pressure ulcers, and (6) negative experience during rehabilitation. Future recommendations include education to farmers with SCI and to relevant professionals on the importance of using a seat cushion on farm equipment to decrease the risk of pressure ulcer development and to be prepared with local resources to assist in their return to farming. With this knowledge, OT practitioners will be well-equipped to assist farmers with SCI return to work safely.


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