Living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be challenging. An individual will need to make many adjustments in their day-to-day routines to compensate for the disability that has resulted from their injury.
Someone with a severe cervical spinal injury, for example, will need to cope with being in a wheelchair and possibly being paralysed below the neck. An individual who has sustained a less severe injury may have other issues to deal with, such as spasticity.
There are everyday things to come to terms with as well. How does a person with tetraplegia feed themselves? How do they get out and about as easily as possible? What about going to the toilet? Or having intimate relationships?
The good news is there is plenty of support out there, particularly online, that offers advice and the opportunity to talk with people who share similar situations.
Support groups are available online and also locally in many places. They are a great way for individuals to communicate and learn from one another as well as meet and exchange stories and advice. Connecting with someone who is going through a similar experience can be vital for those trying to come to terms with the initial symptoms of a spinal cord injury.
Local groups tend to meet once a month so members can catch up and discuss their issues. The benefits to mental health from such interactions can be immeasurable. Understanding that there are other people with the same problem offers a chance to share experiences and develop friendships that make a huge difference.
The internet has been a real godsend when it comes to patients with spinal cord injuries. Not only are there plenty of support groups, there are a number of blogs by people with firsthand experience of living with an SCI, such as Tiffany Carlson who is a C5-C6 paraplegic.
Search around the internet and you will find all sorts of information about spinal cord injuries and every aspect of life after sustaining one. Spinal cord injury support groups online are available for each country, but we’ve selected some of the best in the US here to demonstrate what help is available.
Christopher Reeve was probably one of the most famous celebrities on the planet with a spinal cord injury and he used his notoriety to help provide support for SCI patients as well as their friends and family members. The Reeve Foundation is able to offer emotional support as well as put people in contact with local groups.
Discussion groups may seem a little old hat but they are a brilliant way to discuss topics in-depth and get advice from people who know what they are talking about. One of the longest running and most used is the Inspire Forum which discusses everything from common SCI problems to more personal issues such as bowel and bladder control.
From Oklahoma to Colorado Springs, Wisconsin to Washington State, there are spinal injury chapters all over the US. Each chapter has its own way of doing things but shares the objectives of the USA to help support the spinal injury community.
If you are looking for more than support and want to find out about what the latest research is saying, the University of Alabama SCIMS holds an impressive library of educational material that can help inform how to deal with a spinal cord injury.
Most US states have at least one SCI support group and many cities and counties have their own version. Finding one very close by may be a challenge, depending on where the individual lives, but if there isn’t one in the local area, it could present a good opportunity to create one!
Rolling Inspiration, for example, is a dynamic and energetic support group for SCI patients and their friends and family meeting in San Antonio. States will normally have a whole host of information of what is going on in a particular area. Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Centre is an organisation, for example, that acts as an umbrella for a lot of different support groups.
For anyone who has sustained a spinal cord injury, there’s no need to be alone. Around the US there are many support groups that meet regularly and where individuals share experiences and knowledge. For those who have recently been injured, reaching out to organisations such as these can make a huge difference in initially coming to terms with the effects of their spinal cord injury.
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