Dealing with Spinal Cord Injury

Accidents that end in spinal cord injuries are life changing events that result in a disability that can be overwhelming. The victim must adapt their life style, the injury, complications and rehabilitation can be freighting. The individual may feel distressed thinking about activities, relationships and work shortly after the injury.

It will take time and rehabilitation to recover from this type of damage to the best of the patient’s ability. There are many people who lead full and productive lives after a spinal cord injury. These are often people who have not only found ways to remain motivated but obtained the support they needed to adapt to the changes in their lives.

Talking to Family and Friends

Family members may handle your disability in a verity of ways from denial to over compensating. They may be uncertain what to say or not say. The injury should be discussed when you are comfortable with the changes to alleviate your and others stress about behavior. Understanding and being educated about spinal cord injury can change the way the disability is thought about and how adults and children react. This will also allow family and friends to understand what they can do to be helpful and to avoid you or them feeling uncomfortable. Family members and friends can be told when they are helping too much and it can strengthen relationships when everyone is on the same page by reducing stress.

Grief

It is common for the spinal cord injury victim and their family to mourn, grieving is normal in a situation where your life has been devastatingly changed. These are feelings of denial, disbelief, sadness, anger and bargaining. Once these have been processed by the brain there will come acceptance of the injury and the life changes.  This is a part of recovering from any tragedy and it is a natural way to deal with loss. Grieving is a part of recovery and it is important to go through the stages and when acceptance is reached goals can be set to move on with your life.

Along with grieving there may be concerns about what will change and there may be emotional stress over relationships and financial concerns. This is both normal and common for spinal cord injury victims going through the grieving process. If this results in isolation from family members, you feel the need to use drugs or alcohol then it is crucial to speak to a social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist.

One of the other beneficial things a spinal cord injury victim can do is to seek a support group for people with this type of injury. Discussing issues with this kind of group can help you to understand you are not alone and you may learn how to deal with certain issues by people who have gone through them. This can be advice on how to adapt your home, office or other area to fit your life better or discussing the emotional changes you are feeling. This type of group may be what can help and the rehabilitation specialist, physician or therapist may know of a support group.

Regaining Control

Education about your injury and the options available to make life easier is a way to take control of the damage that has been done and rise above it, even though many things may change in your life. Today with technology there are many things that can allow a spinal cord injury patient to remain independent from vehicle and driving modifications to home modifications to make life easier. Home modifications may include ramps, wider doors grab bars, door knobs that are easy to turn, special sinks and many items can now be controlled by automation.

There may be economic assistance, support services that are state or federal funding and charitable organizations that can help with the costs in home and vehicle modifications.

Sexual Activity

Sexual activity is a normal part of life and for someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury the body’s response may be different to sexual stimuli. It may take experimenting and patience, along with communication, but it is possible to have a physical as well as an emotional relationship. Your physician can provide medical information about sexual health and a professional counselor can assist in helping with communication and other areas with you and your partner.

The Future

Spinal cord injury is a sudden event that impacts the rest of the individuals life and the lives of their family members. It is common for the patient to mentally list the activities they will no longer be able to do upon hearing the diagnosis. Becoming educated about spinal cord injury, rehabilitation, therapy and treatment options the list often changes after the grieving process to what you will be able to do.

Technology and research constantly continues and there are new devices and technology that helps to add to the list of what can be done, including sports like basket ball and track meets, painting, photography, using a computer and other items. There are also advances being made in stem cell research and nerve cell regeneration that may lead to recovery of spinal cord injury patients at some point.

New medications are also being tested for use with this type of injury. Many spinal cord injury victims have a full life; they get married, have sexual intimacy, have children, have careers, hobbies and socialize.

Citations:

How Christopher Reeve Did it: http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.mtKZKgMWKwG/b.4514599/k.901E/Newly_Paralyzed.htm

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