The needs of people adjusting to spinal cord injury

Every eight hours in the UK someone sustains a spinal cord injury through either accident or illness leaving them permanently paralysed.

People can and do live happy, healthy, active and fulfilling lives with a spinal cord injury: but the facts are stark. The suicide rate for people with spinal cord injury is five times higher than the national average, 20% of people leave NHS spinal hospitals clinically depressed and 32% have clinical anxiety.

Opportunities for participation in family and social life, recreation, exercise and employment are reduced by attitudes of society and inaccessible environments. Only around 17% of people with spinal cord injury are in employment.

Spinal cord injury is sudden and the impact on an individual and their family can be catastrophic, impacting on every area of their lives and requiring huge adjustment.

According to Duff and Kennedy’s model of adjustment to injury (2003), if an individual perceives their situation as a manageable challenge they will adopt certain kinds of coping strategies to 'approach' the challenge; such as goal-setting, keeping busy, talking about their situation and using support around them from family and friends. These coping strategies are linked to happier outcomes in life such as post traumatic growth and satisfaction in life.

If someone feels their situation is unmanageable, however, they will tend towards coping strategies focussed on avoidance, such as denial, withdrawal or alcohol misuse.  Those sorts of strategies are linked to negative outcomes in life such as depression, anxiety, and self-neglect, and therefore secondary complications which may lead to hospitalisation; such as urinary infections and pressure sores.

At Back Up we help people to see their situation as manageable and discover a positive future.

At Back Up we help people to see their situation as manageable and discover a positive future.