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Published byColeen Watkins Modified over 8 years ago
Coping with Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury is often a huge shock that someone is not prepared for. Such a trauma can cause many feelings such as grief, shock, denial, anxiety, depression, and guilt. For example, you may think a lot about the things that have changed and feel depressed or very low in yourself. Or you may think that you can’t cope now and worry about how to do things. Just as there is no magic cure for an injured body, there is no instant way of healing psychological pain. However, it is just as important that you take care of your feelings as it is that you take care of your body. How Spinal Cord Injury affects us
It may help to know that all your feelings are natural and an understandable response to what has happened to you. But the feelings don’t last for ever. Remember you are not alone and these feelings are experienced by others with spinal cord injury. Your recovery will involve working on the physical (body) and emotional (feeling) effects of your injury. It is important to face your feelings and learn to cope. Express your feelings, share them with others and if necessary, members of your team (such as a Clinical Psychologist, specialist nurse or Family Counsellor) who will be available to help you and your relatives when you are ready.
Things that can help In doing something about our reactions to spinal cord injury, we are coping. Coping helps us to find the best thoughts and actions to deal with our situation and to gain a sense of control over it. Here are some of the ways that you can take charge of your recovery: Make a decision to deal with it. If we just decide that we can cope, this can lead to greater coping and make us feel better. When we do not do anything about a stressful situation, we just feel worse. Identify the source of stress – for example, it may be the hospital environment, or feeling overwhelmed with lots of tasks, or having negative thoughts about the future etc.
Things that can help Get accurate information about the needs you now have as a result of your injury. Do something – this means getting involved. For example, by going to therapy departments, contacting local authorities and exploring accommodation options. Think and plan. Spend some time thinking through the consequences of your injury and planning ways of working them out. Let go – sometimes you will not be able to do anything about a problem and need to put it aside until later and move on to something else you can sort out.
Support More than any time in your life, you will now need to get support for how you are feeling and to put future plans into place. Sources of support You can get support from friends, family and relatives. Sometimes people like to talk privately about their worries and not involve loved ones. Members of the Clinical Psychology team will be available to offer you this support when you are ready. Get good advice. It is important to get good quality information and advice when you are facing many new issues, for example from the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), Spinal Outpatients Department and from staff.
Enjoying life again Of course this is a difficult situation in a difficult time. It is very important to allow yourself (and your family) to take time out from problems and concerns, for example, by treating yourself to something you enjoy. Relaxation is an important way of allowing us to take time out and top up our physical and psychological reserves. We can learn to relax in many ways, for example, listening to relaxation tapes, meditating, listening to music, reading, watching television and more. Remember, you cannot be expected to know how to deal with all the consequences of your injury at this stage.
Enjoying life again So it is important to believe that there is a way forward, that it is possible to deal with spinal cord injury and possible to get back to enjoying life again.
Support in the Community Remember, there is support beyond hospital. The Spinal Outpatients Service (SPOP) is available to support your needs as an outpatient. You will be provided with information about their services before you are discharged. Your GP (General Practitioner or local doctor) is someone who can help co-ordinate your care in the community. If you require specific support in the community, for example, for your mental health, your Clinical Psychologist can refer you to someone in the community.
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