How to Adjust to Life After a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal Cord Injuries can happen to anyone, and the results of such an injury are usually far more complex than many people realise. Living with a spinal injury is often far more than ‘just’ not being able to walk again.
Spinal injuries can cause many hidden health problems, as well as the visible paralysis. Many people don’t realise that a spinal cord injury can limit a person’s bowel and bladder control, which can mean increased likelihood of urinary tract infections, bladder and kidney infections, and kidney stones.
Any reduction in skin sensation can mean that pressure sores become a risk – as the injured person is less, or unaware of them forming. At their worst, pressure sores may mean that you have to undergo more surgeries.
You may find that your injury causes problems with circulation and blood pressure, sometimes leading to the formation of blood clots. Your doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals should be able to tell you what to look out for, and how best to manage it given the specifics of your injury.
One question that many people ask after a spinal injury is whether they will be able to have sex. This is not about pleasure, but about feeling like a complete person who is in charge of their life once again. A spinal cord injury can affect your sexual function and your fertility. Men may experience difficulty with erection and ejaculation, women with lubrication.
Again, you will be able to get advice and help from your medical team – urologists, fertility specialists, and occupational therapists in particular.
After an injury, it is important for your physical and mental health to complete the physical therapy exercises as prescribed, but sometimes people underestimate occupational therapy as a useful tool. A good O/T will be able to teach you ‘tricks of the trade,’ like the best ways to move between your chair and your bed for example.
There is no doubt that anyone undergoing such a remarkable change will experience some stress or depression. The key is to keep talking. Don’t try to suffer in silence.
If you have sustained a spinal injury, and you are struggling to adjust to life afterwards, there are plenty of people you can talk to. The solicitors at Aspire Law work closely with the charity Aspire who will be able to help and support you.