Most of us never imagine that we’ll suffer a spinal cord injury: we imagine that these are far-flung risks that will never befall us, and so we don’t consider how much our lives would change. However, spinal cord injuries are shockingly common, with over 282,000 people in the United States living with partial or complete paralysis.
Those between the ages of 16 and 30 are most likely to suffer a spinal cord injury; in men, motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries are the most common culprits. Every time you play sports or jump in a car, you are at risk of getting into an accident that results in partial or complete paralysis.
A spinal cord injury, even one resulting in quadriplegia, isn’t a death sentence: you can survive and thrive, though your life will be different than before. Today, we’ll explore some of the ways that you can live a full and healthy life with a spinal cord injury, including getting the support and justice you deserve.
After you’ve received a spinal cord injury diagnosis, a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important that you consider this important avenue to justice as soon as possible. Illinois specifically has a statute of limitations of two years for personal injury; this may seem like a long time, but you must realize that your lawyer will likely attempt to negotiate with the responsible party first, then file a lawsuit later.
As such, you should consider contacting a Chicago paralysis attorney right away to discuss your legal options. Rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury is very expensive, and you’ll have care costs throughout your lifetime, which may be covered by a settlement. It can also be incredibly vindicating to hold people accountable for what happened to you, which can be an important step in your recovery.
Home Health Aides
Especially in the early days of your recovery, you might not be familiar with all the procedures to keep yourself healthy, such as bowel protocols, which is why a home health aide can be incredibly helpful. They’ll also provide you with invaluable guidance as you learn to adjust to your new reality, as well as a sense of security in knowing you don’t have to go through this alone.
Depending on where the injury occurred on your spinal cord and whether it is complete or incomplete paralysis, you may need to use a wheelchair, which allows you independence and mobility.
However, a wheelchair can seem like a burden if your environment isn’t adapted to allow you to move freely, which is why it’s essential that you prioritize accessibility in your home and other environments. This can include things like wheelchair ramps, wider doors, and placing items lower down so they’re easier to reach.
Working with a company that specializes in home adaptations can greatly improve the functionality and comfort of your home.
It’s vital that you continue to exercise once you’ve fully recovered from any surgeries: this prevents blood clots, preserves muscle tone, and also improves your mental health.
There are many exercises you can still do with a spinal cord injury, such as lifting weights, swimming, wheelchair basketball or tennis, handcycling, kayaking, and even sit skiing!
Working with a physical therapist is an excellent idea for anyone with a spinal cord injury, as they know of safe, effective exercises that will keep you moving and help you feel good too.
Eating well is vital to recovering from any injury, including paralysis, and it can make a huge difference in how you feel. Weight gain is common in those with spinal cord injuries because of reduced physical activity, but you can stave this off through both diet and exercise. You’ll likely need to eat smaller portions because your energy intake requirements have dropped.
Focus on healthy, whole foods, particularly insoluble fibers, as your digestive system is often impacted. Drink plenty of water to stave off UTIs and avoid excess sugar, which can contribute to diabetes.
Becoming paraplegic is traumatizing and isolating. You may find that friends start to drift away from you because they’re made uncomfortable by your disability or they don’t know how to relate to you anymore, but know that this is more about them than it is about you. It might seem like none of your loved ones really understand what you’re going through, and that they don’t have helpful advice for the practical obstacles in your way.
This is why support groups can be immensely empowering when you’re dealing with a spinal cord injury: you can meet other people who know how you feel and have dealt with many of the same problems you have. They will have tips on how to cope with pain, suggestions for rehabilitation – and most of all, empathy for how you feel. It’s a new era of your life, and making new friends can really help your recovery and overall well being.
Spinal cord injuries can happen to anyone, but they’re particularly common among young men who play contact sports, work in construction, or often operate heavy machinery. While it may seem like a death sentence, you can still enjoy a healthy, active life with a spinal cord injury if you know what to prioritize and what to avoid.