The spinal cord is the superhighway of our body; electrical impulses from the brain and all over the body are coordinated by it. Injury to the spinal cord can cause severe damage to normal motor, autonomic and sensory functions.
Spinal cord injury Rehabilitation
After the completion of clinical treatment comes the need for rehabilitation. This is the part where the patient slowly eases into everyday life and is the last phase of recovery. Spinal cord injury rehabilitation includes, but is not limited to, physiotherapy and use of assistive technology.
Dealing with Grief and Depression: Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating and traumatic event, and it takes time to fully adapt to a new condition and making peace with one’s predicament. Newly injured individuals are likely to experience grief, usually stemming from the loss of sensory or motor functions. Further complicating the situation are feelings of extreme sadness and the inability to think clearly, symptomatic of depression. Depression is not in your head, it is a recognized medical condition requiring professional treatment by rehabilitation specialists. But this phase definitely comes to an end as one begins to accept a realistic view of his condition and his options for the future.
Ease into life with therapy: A rehabilitation therapist will evaluate your ability and level of functioning when you’re in your home, at work or while engaging in leisure. They will re-train you to perform day-to-day activities using adaptive techniques and will implement exercise and physical routines to strengthen affected muscles and nerves. Therapy is all about getting you to accept a new lifestyle, especially with regards to sexual and recreational options. Getting your friends and family involved in the process will aid recovery significantly.
Participate: This may sound intuitive, but a surprising number of patients give in to depression and lose hope, by simply co-operating with doctors and going through the motions mechanically with no enthusiasm. Understand that your body can only feel as healthy as your mind; if you do not retain hope, no amount of physical aids or therapy will lead to completion of recovery. The human body, even after centuries of research, retains many mysteries and the effect of mind over matter is well documented if not completely understood. Be enthusiastic about your recovery and you’ll be on the road to a better life in no time.
Physiotherapy is typically concerned with restoring function of the arms and legs. It can be done in home or in rehabilitation clinics. In some cases, mobility is possible only with assistive technology like walkers, leg braces or a wheelchair. Communication skills such as writing, typing or using the telephone may also require assistance. A strict exercise schedule, designed by the therapist, will contain programs geared towards increasing muscle strength, especially if treatment of the injury has required multiple weeks/months of rest. In case of muscle paralysis, therapy is required to prevent atrophy, pressure sores and to retain bladder and bowel control.
Occupational therapy, an intrinsic part of Spinal cord injury rehabilitation, is pointed at regaining the fine motor skills needed to achieve maximum functional independence. This includes programs that help with daily activities like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, etc. A therapist will also recommend equipment or technology to better aid recovery in your home itself. They will also guide family members and caregivers on how to provide you with your needs and assistance in the best way!
Engaging in recreational and athletic activities without straining your body builds your abilities. It encourages you to break the cycle of loneliness and depression by engaging with your community and your hobbies. Successfully completing rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury takes courage and effort. In the end though, it just helps you achieve a more normal lifestyle, inching you closer to your life before injury and hopefully, towards the quality of life you hope to achieve post recovery.