spinal cord injury

  • Ways to Offer Support During Spinal Cord Injury

    A spinal cord injury is a life altering event that can be scary, confusing and emotionally draining for everyone involved. Amidst all of the changes that a spinal injury causes, it is important to be supportive. Below, we offer some suggestions to help you offer support to loved ones after a spinal cord injury.


    Being Supportive After Spinal Cord Injury

    According to the United Spinal Association, near half of all individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) need personal assistance with regular, day-to-day activities.

    Following are some tips to help you be more supportive to a loved one who has just experienced a spinal cord injury.

    #1 - Understand the spinal cord injury.

    While you may not be able to empathize with all that the person is going through, it helps to learn as much as you can about their spinal cord injury. Doing so will help you better understand how their particular injury affects them, including the types of treatment needed and emotional effects.

    #2 - Encourage exercise & physical therapy.

    Building and/or maintaining strength is important with any injury - especially a spinal cord injury. Regular exercise and physical therapy will help the person build strength as well as boost his/her mood.

    Know what types of exercises/physical therapy the person needs or is going through, and offer to go with them or exercise alongside of them. This may make an otherwise difficult task more enjoyable knowing that you are accountable to each other.

    #3 - Reinforce goal setting.

    Without clear goal setting, it is often difficult to see the bigger picture. Having and setting goals gives the person something to work towards - whether it’s finishing a specific physical exercise or finishing work on a college degree. Help motivate them to keep them pushing ahead.

    #4 - Don’t always help immediately.

    It is natural for us to want to immediately help someone who we perceive as struggling with something. However, in the case of physically disabled persons, it is sometimes better to demonstrate restraint.

    With spinal cord injuries, you can’t and shouldn’t do everything for the person. Give them an opportunity to act independently and only step in when asked or when it is more obviously appropriate.

    This will save the person embarrassment and frustration.

    #5 - Consider a spinal cord injury support group.

    Navigating spinal cord injury on your own can be challenging. Regardless of whether it’s you or another loved one you’re caring for, speaking to others who are experiencing the same thing can prove rewarding while offering the emotional support you need.

    Other Resources

    United Spinal Association - The United Spinal Association provides a comprehensive list of spinal cord injury support groups. Search by state.

    Spinal Cord Injury Associations & Organizations - Offers a list of spinal cord injury associations and organizations within the United States.

    North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association (NCSCIA) - Offers a comprehensive list of spinal cord injury support groups throughout the state of North Carolina.


  • A Chance to Walk Again: Wheelchair to Walker

    Everyone knows someone who has found a wheelchair to be a useful mobility tool at some point in their life. The use may be temporary or permanent. Old age, skeletal or muscular disorders, severe weakness, congenital anomalies, neurological conditions, spinal cord injuries, amputations or other conditions may signal need for a wheelchair. Accessibility for wheelchair users has never been greater; public buildings, private companies and transportation accommodate anyone. And learning to use a chair for moving forward with your life just takes a little practice.

    Automobile accidents are a major cause of paralysis or loss of limb. A 26-year-old man, Jeremy Gates, was critically injured after crashing his car into a tree off a rain-slicked road. His brain suffered traumatic injury, he was in a coma for three months, and when he awoke his injuries left him confined to a wheelchair. He was determined to walk again, and after four years in the wheelchair was able to regain some use of his legs. New research, therapy techniques and sheer will proved key to his improved condition.

    Elon University and Alamance Regional Medical Center’s Center for Fitness & Human Movement Studies is researching physical therapy and mobility innovations and working to give patients an opportunity to rehabilitate and walk again. Gates turned out to be a perfect patient for a study the center was performing on “trunk mobilization exercises,” according to the Burlington Times News.

    The study worked to have Gates learn to contract his abdominal muscles so he could learn to balance and secure his frame and stand. His story is one of success. Using those techniques, Gates has made progress each year, from wheelchair to walker to now walking with the aid of crutches.

    But many others still struggle to do everyday tasks.

    While you are undergoing physical therapy and participating in new sports and other activities, and making new friends, and learning new things at college, being able to get from one point to another is important. Renting or purchasing Van Products wheelchair vans or mobility vans can get you on the move again.

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