September 21, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
There are very few things that can be as devastating as a spinal cord injury. No two people will have the exact same effects of such an injury, and the changes it causes in one’s life can be expected to differ as well. Still, there are some common themes, and knowing what to expect can help you making this difficult adjustment.
Suddenly learning that one is paralyzed is undoubtedly shocking news. Probably the first thing to expect after a spinal cord injury is feeling overwhelmed, confused, and perhaps even helpless. While there are resources available to help you in many ways, this adjustment is certainly very challenging. You can expect that you’ll need to make changes on a number of levels, both in your lifestyle and in your ways of thinking. However, depression is not uncommon as well. It’s a serious condition, that affects one’s mind, body, and emotions. If you find yourself experiencing recognizable symptoms of depression, including loss of appetite, change in weight, loss of pleasure or interest in things in which you previously found joy, or negative thoughts, speak to your physician or other therapists. Depression can be a dangerous illness, but it can be treated with psychotherapy or medications.
As soon as you begin receiving treatment for your spinal cord injury, you can expect the support of a team of healthcare professionals. At the very first level of interaction, there will of course be a variety of doctors, working on your physical condition and treating the injury itself. You can also expect the help of other professionals who you may not already be familiar with, who will help you through your rehabilitation and adjustment phase. These may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, and even nutritionists.
Unfortunately, after a spinal cord injury, there are numerous symptoms which can be considered secondary conditions that accompany paralysis. These may include chronic pain, incontinence, loss of sexual function, and pressure sores. Some of these may cause discomfort, while others may pose serious health risks. Be sure to discuss anything you’re experiencing, either physically or mentally / emotionally with your doctors and therapists.
We can’t stress enough that no two spinal cord injuries are exactly the same, nor are the effects or adjustments you’ll need to make. Don’t assume that everything you read about spinal cord injuries will apply to you in the same way. That being said, don’t forget that you’re not alone. In addition to the support from professionals mentioned above, be sure to seek out the support of peer groups. Interacting with other folks who are dealing with paralysis may give you some new ideas about solutions to your new challenges, and will certainly provide camaraderie and a reminder that you’re not the only one dealing with these issues.
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