There are certain occasions in which we have to face new and hard situations in our life. Suffering a spinal cord injury is a major change in anybody’s life. In today’s post, we are going to talk about how to face and adapt to a spinal cord injury.
No doubt that a spinal cord injury completely changes many aspects of our daily routines and poses many challenges in which a person has to adapt. One of these first challenges that a person with a spinal cord injury has to face is returning home. Fearing the uncertainty of not knowing how to continue with the previous daily routine after this type of injury is quite common. After such an injury, new habits should be adopted. In other words, what some people refer to as starting from scratch. This may be overwhelming at the beginning but this feeling disappears as soon as these new habits become part of your world and some issues are solved.
How can the adaptation process be eased?
Outpatient rehabilitation is recommended for a while to increase strength and stamina. In this way daily activities will be easier to perform.
As self-confidence is gained back and new daily routine is correctly managed, the patient will adapt everything he/she has learnt and will create his own routine.
Apart from adapting to external factors, it is necessary for a patient with a spinal cord injury to adapt to the injury itself. In other words, the patient has to get used to the reality of what a spinal cord injury means and what´s involved by learning several techniques for stress management which may result from other issues that the injury causes.
How can a person adapt to a spinal cord injury?
It is essential for everyone to set their own goals and expectations. There are some factors such as the person’s character and his/her way to face changes that influence the adaptation process of a spinal cord injury.
It is common to feel the body differently during the first few months. Although this feeling may stay for a while and it may seem impossible to get used to it, it disappears eventually as the person familiarizes with his/her new body and appearance.
Once this stage has been overcome, the patient with the spinal cord injury will start adapting to it by being more aware of his new physical condition.
Although a person is still the same after suffering a spinal cord injury, some of his/her values and principles may change and maybe he/she will appreciate more another different life aspect.
How is a spinal cord injury faced?
Neither this is a fast and easy process nor there is one sole way to adapt to a spinal cord injury. Each person will adapt to it differently and within a certain period of time. First of all, recovery should be focused on what is the most important aspect: the function of our vital organs and physical balance.
Once the patient is out of danger, the moment to adapt to everything else starts.
There are three levels to which a person with a spinal cord injury has to adapt:
– Physical: to familiarize with his new body condition and learn to overcome his own physical limitations.
– Psychological: to digest the new situation and changes that he has to face.
– Social: to adapt to his social, familiar and working environment, etc.
As we have already mentioned, there are many different ways of facing this hard life-changing issue. There are some coping strategies which involve three dimensions to which a person with a spinal cord injury should adapt: problem, feeling and avoidance. Therefore a different strategy shall be applied according to each person’s character.
Some of the most used coping strategies are: setting goals, acceptance, adaptation, balance of feelings and motivations, focusing on improving at work, academically or personally.
There are also some factors that may influence this adaptation process such as life conditions, familiar environment, interest shown by the person who will change, rehabilitation process, etc.
It is extremely important for the patient to be surrounded by those who support him or her the most: family, friends, other people in his or her community, etc.
There are currently many organizations to help people with a spinal cord injury which can be very useful in order to cope with the adaptation process. To reduce the stress that a spinal cord injury can cause, it can be interesting to seek for professional help in order for the patient to be helped at applying any coping strategy.
To sum up, adapting to a spinal cord injury is a time-consuming and hard process but it can be achieved. Learning to manage setbacks, to look for new alternatives, to set smalls goals which can be turned into achievements and get surrounded by special people are the key to adapt and face a spinal cord injury and to make the most of your life.
If you are interested in this topic, you can find out more information in our blog in which we provide some more recommendations for people with reduced mobility and their environment.