Regaining Your Independence as a Paraplegic

October 17, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

A severe spinal cord injury has the ability to permanently change your life. Not only does it impact your mobility it also impacts your independence. You may feel like you are always going to have to rely on others but it is entirely possible for a paraplegic to learn how to live independently. Below are a few things you need to remember as you start learning to live independently as a paraplegic.

  • It is going to be a process.

Try not to be too hard on yourself if you do not regain your independence immediately. This is going to be a process because you need to learn how to take care of yourself in a new way. Everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and driving a car are going to look different for you now that you are a paraplegic. As you learn to adapt to your new way of life, the main priority will always be your safety. Make sure you can perform independent tasks safely before you try them without another person present.

  • There are tools that can help you live more independently.

There are a variety of tools that can help you regain your independence as a paraplegic. Transfer boards can help you get in and out of bed, in and out of the car, and onto other chairs and surfaces from your wheelchair. The transfer boards are typically small enough for you to carry with you so you can move around independently outside your home.

Pants Up Easy is a tool that can provide you with independence while getting dressed and using the restroom. This is a product that makes it possible and safe for you to pull up your pants without assistance from another person. This tool not only increases your independence but it increases your safety and privacy as well. There are numerous other tools and technologies designed to help people with spinal cord injuries. The best options for you depend on the type and severity of your injury. Collaborate with your doctor, occupational therapist, and physical therapist to come up with a customized list of assistive tools and devices.   

  • There is a large network of people who can provide you with practical and emotional support.

Reaching out for support may seem like the opposite of independence, but it’s not. You can gain independence more quickly by learning from others with knowledge about how to deal with your situation. There may be some things that you have to learn by trial and error, but it is likely others have already figured out an efficient way to do whatever it is you are trying to learn. For example, the job of an occupational therapist is to help you learn how to do the activities associated with everyday living as a paraplegic. Tasks such as going to the restroom, getting in and out of bed, and even cooking will present you will new challenges. You can still do these things but you will have to do them differently than you did before your injury. With the help of an occupational therapist you can learn to safely do these tasks-and others-on your own.

The support of other people with spinal cord injuries can also help you regain your independence. You will find that there are people with spinal cord injuries that are doing amazing things and living full lives. The motivation and inspiration you get from talking to other people in your situation may be enough to give you a morale boost whenever you feel like giving up on making progress. You do not have to figure this out entirely on your own. Check out some of the support available to people with spinal cord injuries, here.

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