- Author: Cathy Leech
- Date: October 2023
Handling the complexities and challenges of life after a spinal injury is difficult, but it can be accomplished with courage, resilience and an extensive support system.
There are five areas of support that aid recovery and help you adapt to a new way of life: expert medical care and rehabilitation, mental health support, peer support, a strong network of friends and family, and legal support. Here, we take a look at each area that will support your physical and emotional wellbeing and empower you to feel like you can still live a fulfilled and happy life.
Expert Medical Care and Rehabilitation
Expert medical care and a comprehensive rehabilitation programme are vital for recovering after a spinal injury and adapting to a new way of life. A spinal injury can affect multiple aspects of life, from mobility to continence. Expert medical care serves as a bedrock on which your new life will be built, focusing not just on immediate treatment but also on long-term recovery and adaptation.
Specialised Rehabilitation Programmes
A multi-disciplinary team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and rehabilitation nurses work together to create a personalised plan designed to maximise your functional abilities. This holistic approach ensures that you regain as much independence as possible, enhancing both your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Preventing Secondary Complications
High-quality medical care is vital in preventing secondary complications that can arise post-injury. Issues such as pressure sores, urinary tract infections or respiratory problems can pose serious threats to recovery and long-term health. Expert medical oversight allows for proactive measures, timely interventions and education on self-care, equipping you to become able to manage your own condition.
Mental Health Support
A spinal injury affects more than just your body; it comes with mental health challenges that can range from anxiety and depression to feelings of isolation. Providing mental health support should be part of your recovery plan.
Engaging in mindfulness practices can be a transformative experience. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and focused attention help anchor you in the present moment, reducing anxiety. Mindfulness serves as a tool to manage stress, enabling you to approach challenges with a calmer mindset.
The importance of professional psychological or counselling services cannot be overlooked. Therapists can offer effective coping strategies, helping you build resilience and maintain a positive outlook. In this regard, SIA’s peer-led counselling service is an excellent example of an initiative that combines expert psychological support with the lived experience of trained counsellors. The resulting insights can be powerful, giving you the emotional and psychological strength needed for a sustained and fulfilling recovery.
The right mindset not only helps you tackle daily challenges but also arms you with the emotional resilience to envision and work toward a fulfilling life post-injury.
A Supportive Network
While medical experts and therapists provide technical and professional support, it is often the emotional and practical help from your friends and family that helps you through your recovery journey.
When you’re recovering from a spinal injury, emotional support from family and friends can be invaluable. They can help you stay positive, even when the physical recovery is tough and slow and cheer you on when you make progress, no matter how small. Sometimes, they can even help you figure out ways to adapt your daily routines so you can be more independent. Just having someone there to talk to when you’re frustrated or scared can make a big difference. Their support can help you not just cope with the daily challenges but also feel better about your future.
Friends and family can also play a critical role in day-to-day practicalities whilst you are in hospital and once you return home. From helping to take you to medical appointments, to assisting with household chores, this help collectively contributes to a smoother and less stressful adaptation to your new way of life.
Talking to people who have been through a similar experience can provide a sense of community and a depth of understanding that you might not get elsewhere. It’s a way to feel less alone in your struggle and to share specific tips or advice that have worked for you or others.
Learning from someone else’s experience can give you new ideas for your own recovery and help you avoid potential pitfalls. Also, sharing your own experiences and progress can boost your confidence and provide a sense of achievement.
Charities such as the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and Back Up offer structured peer support services, providing an opportunity to talk to others with lived experience. These are safe places to talk openly about your worries, ask questions and celebrate your wins, no matter how small they might seem to others.
Specialist spinal injury solicitors such as JMW can help you make a claim for compensation. The compensation you receive can pay for your medical bills, physical therapy, changes to your home, and even replace lost wages, allowing you to focus fully on getting better.
By building a comprehensive support system around you while you recover and adapt to life with a spinal injury, you’ll find the challenges you face will be easier to overcome.
For more information about the getting active after a Spinal Cord injury visit WheelPowers dedicated page: