Q: Will the survivor ever walk again?
A: This questions can’t be answered until the rehabilitation process is well underway. In most cases, the likelihood of walking again is extremely slim.
Q: How do we tell the survivor about the extent of their injury?
A: Answer all questions as honestly as possible, and never make any promises. If questions require research, then do what’s necessary before you give your final answer.
Q: Is movement in the legs a good sign?
A: In most cases, this indicates spasticity, a condition in which the muscles move involuntarily.
Q: How will this injury impact the survivor’s family?
A: When a person becomes paralyzed, both the survivor and his or her family is traumatized. The family may feel feelings such as denial, numbness, confusion, anger, or anxiety. Family members also must be prepared to accept new roles in the life of the survivor, as they help him or her adapt to new circumstances.
Q: Can a survivor of a spinal cord injury go on to have a fulfilling life?
A: Absolutely. While life will be dramatically different following the injury, family, friends, and the survivor’s medical team can show him or her that there’s much to live for. Survivors can work, enjoy recreational activities, and can marry and have children. The key is to help the survivor focus on the future, so he or she can set some realistic goals.
Q: What can be expected during the grieving process?
A: While every experience is different, every survivor and family of the survivor will go through the process of loss. Common stages during this time include:
- Denial: The survivor and family don’t accept what’s happened, and pretend that everything is normal.
- Depression: As reality sinks in, the survivor and his or her family feel profound sadness over what has been lost as a result of the injury.
- Anger: The survivor will be mad about what has happened, and this will manifest through verbal and physical assaults on others.
- Bargaining: The survivor and family are beginning to accept what has happened, but may still hold onto the idea that the state is temporary. At this stage many people still believe their prayers may be answeres
- Acceptance: At this point people accept a realistic view of their situation, and begin to find meaning in their life once more. They begin to think about their future.
Q: What can be done to more quickly move to the acceptance stage?
- Ask for help when you need it
- See friends and family regularly, and become involved in activities you enjoy
- Make sure you have enough time to yourself.
- Share your feelings
- Find a support group