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Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries: Beyond the Physical Trauma

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) can have far-reaching impacts on a victim’s life. In addition to the physical concerns, the victim likely will experience financial, emotional, social and psychological repercussions from the injury. The victim’s loved ones also may experience the negative impact of injury. Understanding the non-physical concerns may offer insight into how to move forward with a comprehensive recovery.

The Emotional Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries: Victim

Spinal cord injuries that result in partial or complete paralysis will be life-altering events for the victim and his or her loved ones. The victim may experience fear and confusion as he or she adjusts to the new realities of living with a disability. It is not unusual for a spinal cord injury victim to report depression.

SCI patients may experience denial, disbelief, shock, sadness and anger. These all are normal parts of the grieving process. The victim likely will progress to the “acceptance” stage, and from there, move forward with adjusting to a new life.

Patients will have to make many adjustments in daily activities, learning how to cope with challenges involving self-care and hygiene, performing chores and even intimacy. It may help for a victim to educate himself or herself about the injury and how to work toward independence. Family and friends – as well as medical and therapeutic professionals – can be tremendous assets in a victim’s emotional recovery.

The Emotional Impact of Spinal Cord Injury: The Family

A spinal cord injury patient’s loved ones also will experience the effects of the injury. This may include sadness, disbelief, shock and anger. Any children involved may feel confusion and even fear, particularly if a parent or sibling has suffered an injury. There will be a period of adjustment for all loved ones. It may be beneficial for the family to seek counseling together or separately to address issues with anger or depression.

There may be a shifting of roles within the household following a serious SCI. For instance, a parent may be unable to return to work after suffering total paralysis or may need to find new ways to interact with the children.

The Financial Impact of Spinal Cord Injury

Victims of spinal cord injuries will experience numerous financial concerns, including:

  • potential loss of past and future income (the Rick Hansen Institute reports chronic unemployment is a concern for 60 percent of spinal cord injury patients in Canada);
  • ongoing medical and therapeutic care;
  • attendant care; and
  • the cost of outfitting a home and vehicle to accommodate the injury.

In the event of a motor vehicle accident, Accident benefits and/or a tort claim may be able to help recover some or all of the expense associated with the injury. All other related accidents, have only a tort claim; provided that someone else’s negligence caused the injury.

Recovering From Spinal Cord Injuries

Have you or a loved one sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident, such as a motor vehicle crash or slip and fall? The injury lawyers at Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to help victims of spinal cord injury recover fair compensation to treat their injuries. Call 1-800-JUSTICE® or complete this confidential online form to learn more. There is no charge to you unless we can recover compensation.


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