Mandy Kloppers

How to Cope With a Spinal Cord Injury


When many medical professionals discuss spinal cord injuries with their patients, they do so from a physical perspective. They might discuss your long-term prognosis for being able to walk again, and the types of physical therapy you can try to regain use of some parts of your body. However, the mental element of a spinal cord injury is equally important. Learning how to cope with such a severe and life-changing injury can be challenging, and there might be value in doing some of the following things. 

Seeking Professional Help

After suffering a spinal cord injury, you might be tempted to shut yourself away from the rest of the world and try to manage your emotions on your own. However, seeking professional help might be one of the best things you can do to make it through the other side. 

You may see the value in contacting a lawyer to discuss your claim options or a mental health specialist for helpful tools to manage your feelings. Many people with spinal cord injuries also find that support groups can be beneficial. 

Understanding the Five Stages of Grief

Spinal cord injuries can change your entire way of life, and it’s only natural to grieve what you had and what you might have had in the future. Anyone who has lost anything can feel a wide range of emotions relating to their situation. By becoming aware of the five stages of grief, including denial, sadness, anger, bargaining, and acceptance, you might be better able to identify them and move through them. 

Being Patient

Spinal injuries are complex, and everyone’s experiences are different. Some people take a matter of days to regain particular functions, while healing might take weeks, months, or years for other people. Depending on the severity of your injuries, it might take a significant amount of time for your body to heal to the level your doctors predict. In that time, patience can be necessary for your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Setting Goals

It’s only natural to feel like you’re in a hopeless situation after a life-changing injury. You might be spending a lot of time thinking about all the things you’re unable to do rather than what you can do or potentially can in the future. Consider setting goals that give you something to focus on and work toward. Those goals might be something as small as being able to wiggle one toe or as advanced as taking your first steps unaided by a specific date. 

Establishing a Routine

The first days, weeks, and months after a spinal cord injury can be chaotic. You might feel like you’ve got no sense of routine or purpose, and every day is a blur. However, you might feel like you have some semblance of control and direction by establishing a routine. A routine can include exercises to do at specific times, bathroom breaks, meal times, and other crucial tasks that may feel outside of your control in those early days. 

There’s no right or wrong way to recover from a spinal cord injury, but there are undoubtedly things you can do to improve your situation. Take note of these tips below, and you might notice both physical and mental health advantages.

Featured image: Photo by Palle Knudsen on Unsplash