The internet is a useful tool, which provides valuable information that people can make use of. However, it is a platform where many wrong ideas can be shared. Because of this, confusion can easily arise for a person seeking medical advice in regards to spinal cord injuries. Most of these ideas are outdated, ill informed, and baseless. Some people are also ignorant to some degree of what really a spinal injury is.
In this article, we highlight some stereotypes and myths associated with spinal cord injuries (SCI).
Rehabilitation process entirely depends on the degree of the person’s injury, the support they receive while recovering, and their personal life. It is not dependent on the age and does not define how the experience after the injury will be.
SCI means you will never be able to move again.
Every person’s injury and results of recovery are different. Most people with a spinal cord injury might experience sensory loss and impaired mobility, but their disability levels vary greatly. The extent of disability depends on the intensity and the exact point of damage to the spinal cord. Those with injuries around the mid-lower back may walk independently or with the support of frames or braces. Those with injuries around the neck may lose mobility completely.
Wheelchairs aid in mobility. However, a person is not always restricted or confined to the equipment. They can always get around and access the necessary services like shopping. This equipment is liberating rather than restrictive. It is also fast enough to help a person shop, sport, or travel.
It is believed that people with SCI cannot have children. This is not true and has been disproven, as SCI has no lasting effect on fertility. The injury could be severe and might cause serious complications but that does not necessarily render a woman infertile. The injury has no impact on the development of the baby and most women have healthy pregnancies.
Women with SCI can successfully bear and care for their children as well. Males too are fertile and can father children with the assistance of reproductive technologies that free the immotile sperm.
Accidents constitute the highest percentage of spinal cord injuries compared to other causes. First, motor vehicle accidents account for a large percentage, followed by gunshot wounds, falls and lastly recreation or sports accidents. The other percentage comprises of non-traumatic causes such as arthritis, cancer, blood clots, and degenerative spinal conditions.
Most SCI survivors are able to resume work after the first year of injury. Only a few of them are required to make minor adjustments but it is not the case for all. Others can maintain their previous jobs. Occupational therapists avail themselves to assist the survivors in finding new career paths where necessary. Pursuing a career is still possible after an SCI and one should not be limited by their previous condition.
Attitude is one of the key elements that make a difference when it comes to rehabilitation. A positive attitude plays a major role in influencing motivation and the drive it takes in attaining the best level of independence they possibly can. It has the potential of achieving physical function and full recovery. A critical component makes a significant difference in helping a person to recover fully physically and emotionally for an independent lifestyle.
It is believed that family does not have much to offer when it comes to post-injury matters. On the contrary, the family plays a major role in the recovery journey. This is the support network for the survivor and should be involved as much as possible. They encourage the patient and are actively involved from the hospital stay to rehabilitation back home in the community.
Physical therapists only try to help the patients realise their potential based on the extent of the injury. Predicting the outcome is impossible as rehabilitation process varies from one person to another. It is never black and white with spinal cord injuries. Patients are advised to be hopeful and anticipate what the future holds.
Just like every other person, the life expectancy of an SCI person is influenced by their lifestyle. A well-rounded diet, regularly exercising, and resources to make life comfortable leads to a longer lifespan.
The cost of living with an SCI is far beyond the means of an average family. Special equipment, medical bills, and therapies constitute the large expense associated with a spinal injury. Insurance covers only cater to a fraction of the total medical cost, which is usually high and can escalate to millions of dollars in a person’s lifetime.
With the many assumptions that people have made about spinal cord injuries survivors, it is of high importance that one makes a clear distinction between the facts and misinformation.
Coping with a spinal injury can be devastating especially with the many stereotypes and myths that surround it. Different people will encounter different experiences. It is important to establish what the facts are and kick out negligence and wrong ideas on the injuries.
Awareness through education has helped patients and caregivers cope with injuries. Many SCI survivors are living independent and productive lives owing to treatment and rehabilitation. This is possible despite the many myths and misconceptions in society.
While many people hold the baseless myth that a spinal injury is rare, it isn’t. The condition can happen to anyone regardless of age, sex, occupation, or region. New patients should find information from reliable sources to have their facts right and avoid myths that will lead them down the wrong path.
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