The period of time following a spinal cord injury that results in paralysis can be a very traumatic and confusing time. While counselors will play a part in helping the survivor reach acceptance, it’s important that the survivor and family work together to ensure the future health and quality of life for the survivor.
Coping Skills for the Survivor
During the acute phase, the survivor should:
- Ask questions about what has happened or what is happening. Accumulate as much knowledge as possible regarding his or her situation.
- Do the task he or she can do independently, and accept help for those he or she can’t do.
- Gather financial, insurance, and employment paperwork.
Once the survivor has moved out of the acute phase and is in rehabilitation, he or she should:
- Focus on getting back to an independent life in terms of everyday life, work, and social situations.
- Be committed to therapy.
- Stay positive and avoid sentences that begin with the words “I can’t.�?
- Celebrate all achievements.
- Be patient with the rehab process, and realize that the injury will dictate how fast it goes
- Attempt simple tasks before complicated tasks
- Set long-range goals, and think about the future and all its possibilities
Coping Skills for the Family
The family has a similar set of tasks. During the acute phase, the family should:
- Gather as much knowledge as possible regarding the survivor’s care.
- Take care of the details such as visiting schedules.
- Secure benefits and gather financial, insurance, and employment information.
Once the survivor has moved out of the acute phase and is in rehabilitation, the family should:
- Do homework regarding equipment and support services
- Be supportive, especially when the survivor is feeling angry or depressed
- Take part in therapy sessions
- Celebrate any achievements with the survivor
- Be patient with the rehab process, remembering that the injury will determine how fast progress is made
- Remind the survivor that simple tasks should be mastered before complicated tasks
- Help the survivor look forward to the future by discussing long-term plans