How do I support my loved one with a spinal cord injury?

Life after a spinal cord injury is undoubtedly difficult and complex for the individual who experienced the trauma. However, it is often overlooked that caregivers and loved ones can face challenges, too.

In times of hardship, the challenges that caregivers face can seem overwhelming, which is why it is important to learn how to support yourself as well as your loved one. According to a study in Nursing Science Quarterly, the injured adapt to a spinal cord injury with greater ease when supported by meaningful relationships.

It can be hard to know what to say and do when your loved one is learning how to live with a spinal cord injury. Your loved one may need different emotional and physical support than prior to the injury.

Tips for supporting your loved one with a spinal cord injury

Navigating the best way to handle a long-term injury can be demanding. The following will help you and your loved one overcome stressful situations:

  1. Patience is key: Living with a spinal cord injury is new for all parties involved, so be extra patient with your loved one. Frustration and confusion are normal parts of figuring out what everyday life looks like.
  2. Independence is critical: While it’s important to be a helping hand, give your loved one space when they need it. Letting them decide when to ask for your help will let them continue to be an independent individual.
  3. Ask questions: Inform yourself on spinal cord injuries and the specifics surrounding the afflicted. It’s okay to ask questions when you need to.
  4. Find support: It may be helpful to lean on other families/ friends of individuals with spinal cord injuries, as well as finding support for the injured. There are many online and in-person support groups.
  5. Take care of yourself:Remember that you cannot be of any help if you are not taking care of yourself. Take time to find ways to relieve stress and take breaks when you need them.

Caring for a loved one with a spinal cord injury does not need to be burdensome. Discovering what type of support works for you and your loved one will be beneficial for everyone involved.

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