Sophie Banat — Sustaining an injury that causes paralysis is arguably one of the worst things that can happen to a person, not least because it would leave him unable to care for himself or live his life in a way that could be described as normal. Words are difficult to find at the best of times when someone has an accident or serious illness and other people will probably find it difficult to talk to them at first because they simply do not know what to say.
Each year over a thousand people are paralysed and many find themselves in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. This can be the result of a road traffic accident, a fall, or even an injury at work, and the knowledge of such a future is very difficult to accept. This defines the need for wider awareness on spinal cord injury. The month of September, thus, is special in this regard as the National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.
Statistics show that sufferers are usually aged between 18 and 35, and in many cases, this means they are unable to continue working and supporting their family.
Brain injury can be the result of serious whiplash or trauma and can result in the movement of hands, arms and legs being affected. This means some people can be paralysed and brain injured. This is both devastating and life changing and, without the right care and support, can destroy the individual and his family.
This is why National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month is so important. It raises the profile of spinal injuries. It brings into the public domain the absolute need for knowledge and understanding and provides valuable support and information for both sufferers and their families.
Life will never be the same again; that much is true, but it need not be the end and with the right advice and guidance a fulfilling future can be achieved.
For the individual, help is given by fellow spinal injury sufferers. Who better to give advice than people with bitter personal experience who have come through and learned how to manage?
Counselling is given to both the sufferer and the family. This is incredibly important and is an ongoing service. Counsellors are on hand to answer questions and offer direction.
Help with finding employment and claiming benefits is also offered, as is legal advice for paralysis and brain injury compensation claims if the injuries are caused by somebody else’s negligence.
Support for the family is so important because there will certainly be worries over finances, housing and help with care. Sometimes just having a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear to listen to your problems is as important as help with finances.
There are many rapid changes that will have to be made once the accident victim has been discharged from hospital and spinal injury can result in the entire family having to move into another home, one that has been modified to make life in a wheelchair easier.
There are many publications available that offer guidance and support. The internet can be another good source of information, providing links to various associations, societies and charities that are there to help.
One thing is certain: no one has to suffer alone and with National Spinal Injuries Awareness Month reminding and educating people every year, sufferers and their families will be empowered and in a stronger and more positive position than ever before.
About the Author
Sophie Banat holds an MSc degree in Psychology and is a graduate in Health with interest in medicine. She tweets @Scramboodle.