Acquiring a spinal cord injury (SCI) is a significant life change and with it comes many emotions to deal with, as well as many practicalities to be addressed. This is also true for family and friends.
We can’t tell you what will be your experience as everyone will react and deal with this life change differently. However we can tell you that through our own personal experiences and observing others over many years, there are some common themes.
The early days in the acute ward following the injury is a time to keep things in the moment as much as possible and to focus on stabilising the injuries and get ready for rehab. The doctors and ward staff are the best resource.
The move to rehabilitation is a shift in focus to beginning the journey back to health and wellness. It’s a time of adjustment for everyone involved and a time to really put some work into physical recovery. This is a time of learning physical skills, investigating resources, and preparing for the return home
When it comes time to return home and back into the community there is often a sense of relief, happiness, and fear. Many experience frustration and coping difficulties as it becomes clear just how much life has changed. There are many barriers, restrictions, and limitations to contend with.
During this time of adjustment and reconnection with your community it is important to set small achievable goals. This should help to focus less on the spinal cord injury and related changes, and more on re-establishing life in general - work, family, friends, hobbies, sport.
Living with a spinal cord injury is never without problems and is not the same for everyone. It is helpful to talk with people that are going through or have been through similar changes. They can offer a different perspectives, tips and tricks or just help you to vent. This may be a person you’ve gone through rehab with, someone you’ve met along the way, people you play wheelchair sports with, or one of our staff. This is what we call peer support, and you can find out more about our services and supports here.