Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Nearly 50 percent of people with spinal cord injuries will need some sort of personal assistance with their daily activities. Helping someone after a spinal cord injury requires a delicate balance of maintaining independence for all parties involved and making sure everyone’s needs are being met. Today, we share some tips to keep in mind when caring for someone with a spinal cord injury.
Life After SCI
In order to have the best quality of life after a spinal cord injury, it’s important that the patient, friends, family and caregivers are all on the same page. Here are some tips for ensuring everyone’s needs are met after a spinal cord injury.
For starters, if it’s a close family member that has suffered the spinal cord injury, it’s natural to want to help them with all their basic needs, and while this is helpful in the short-term, it may not be the best option in the long-term. Caring for someone with a spinal cord injury is many things – personal, physical, emotional, psychological and unique – so while you may know the individual very well, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best option to provide them with the majority of their care needs. If possible, see if you can find a personal care assistant to help with regular duties. Not only are they specially trained for these situations, but they can help both the caregiver and the injured party regain some independence and peace of mind.
Another aspect of life to keep in mind for both the patient and caregiver is stress management and healthy living. There will no doubt be stress after a spinal cord injury, and while you can’t change the past, you can work to create a healthy environment that can lead to lower stress levels going forward. Make sure both you and your loved one know that it is important to be able to share your feelings of stress or frustration, because bottling it up can only make it worse, and oftentimes vocalizing the problem in a healthy manner can help resolve the conflict without issue.
If you’re effectively managing stress, then it’s easier to live a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. The situation may have changed, but that doesn’t mean you both can’t still live your life. Go out to a baseball game, head to the park or have the family over for dinner. After a spinal cord injury, the most common thing a person with the injury wants is a return to normalcy, so make it a point to do things that you did prior to the injury. This is critical for everyone’s mental well-being after an SCI.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Lastly, one final point to keeping in mind is the ability to ask for help. I always tell my patients that asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Both parties need to recognize their limits and understand that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help. Life after a spinal cord injury will be different, and although it may take us a while to understand what pitfalls lie ahead, by recognizing and acknowledging these difficulties, we ensure that they don’t become a bigger problem. For more information about life after a spinal cord injury, what you can do to make life easier, or what to do when you run into trouble, reach out to a Minnesota spinal cord injury specialist today.