Helping a Loved One After a Complete Spinal Cord Injury

Dec 19, 2023
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Spinal cord injuries lead to losses of function and mobility. Here’s how you can help if someone close to you sustains a complete spinal cord injury.

Adapting to life after a spinal cord injury isn’t easy for the person with the injury, and those closest to them also encounter unique challenges. If someone close to you sustains a complete spinal cord injury, you want to help in any way you can.

Worldwide, between 250 and 500 thousand people sustain spinal cord injuries every year. Complete spinal cord injuries are only a subset and occur when there is no longer communication between nerves below the injury site. That means you lose feeling and function below the injury site. As you can imagine, such a severe injury can completely change your loved one’s life. 

Delaware NeuroRehab in Dover, Delaware, provides rehabilitation services to give your loved one the best possible quality of life after a complete spinal cord injury. Our team of expert physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other specialists work with your loved one on reasonable functional goals and help them retain as much independence as possible. 

As much as our team can help, at-home support is essential for your loved one after a complete spinal cord injury. If you’re in a position to help, here are some helpful tips. 

Learning about your loved one’s injury

Knowledge goes a long way in empowering you to support your loved one after a complete spinal cord injury. Learn about complete spinal cord injuries and their impact. Take the time to talk to your loved one about how the injury affects them and about the treatments they’re receiving. 

Recovery looks different for everyone. Although not all people with complete spinal cord injuries retain functional abilities below the injury, your loved one might experience improvements over time with rehabilitation. 

Offering hands-on support

Through an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program, your loved one practices functional skills to work toward their goals. As a friend or family member, you have the special ability to provide support in your loved one’s personal life. That may include caregiving in the home, providing emotional support, or altering your loved one’s home environment to make it more accessible. 

Of course, the level of help you provide depends on the nature of your relationship. Our team at Delaware NeuroRehab can train you and other relatives to help your loved one with:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Transferring or repositioning your loved one
  • Bladder program
  • Bowel program 
  • Managing medical complications like Spasticity, Pain, Autonomic Dysreflexia, Sexual Dysfunction etc
  • Spasticity/Spasm/Muscle Tightness management
  • Bracing 
  • Assistive devices and adaptive equipments evaluation 
  • Wheelchair evaluation  

Simply lending your loved one a listening ear could make a significant difference in their outlook and morale. Be sure to include your loved one and offer assistance when needed. 

You might want to assist your loved one in every way you can, but be mindful that too much help can be overwhelming, frustrating, or even embarrassing for the injured person. 

Remember to support yourself

Don’t let your own self-care drift to the wayside as you focus on supporting your loved one with a complete spinal injury. You can better help others by fostering your own mental, physical, and emotional wellness. You can balance your own needs with your loved one’s needs by:

  • Taking personal time for yourself and your hobbies
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Engaging in counseling with a mental health professional
  • Joining a support group
  • Sharing caretaking responsibilities with others

A complete spinal cord injury has a significant impact on the affected person and the people closest to them. There’s no shame in feeling down about the circumstances or overwhelmed by the caretaking responsibilities you take on. Our team at Delaware NeuroRehab is here to assist you with training and advice so you can help your loved one lead a more fulfilling life after their injury. 

To find out more about rehabilitation and familial support after a complete spinal cord injury, call Delaware NeuroRehab or schedule a visit online.