Coping with a Spinal Cord Injury

By Peter DePaolis

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can be devastating. Since 1988, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), 45 percent of all spinal cord injuries have been “complete,” which means that the victim suffers total loss of sensation and function below the injury level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States sees approximately 12,000 to 20,000 spinal cord injuries each year, and currently there are an estimated 200,000 Americans living with a spinal cord injury. Of those, 52 percent are considered paraplegic and 47 percent are considered quadriplegic, according to the NSCIA. The CDC reports that approximately 80 percent of spinal cord injury victims are male, with most new SCI cases occurring in people younger than 30 years old. And according to the National Injury Prevention Foundation, each year, approximately 4,860 SCI victims die before reaching the hospital. The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports accidents and violence.

Coping with a spinal cord injury can be very difficult for the victim and his or her family, both financially and emotionally. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, a qualified Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer can advise you of your legal rights and help you pursue action against the party responsible for your injury.

Coping with a Spinal Cord Injury

According to the Mayo Clinic, adapting to life with a new disability is no easy task, but with motivation and support, SCI victims can move on to lead productive and fulfilling lives. The following steps can help one adjust to life with a spinal cord injury:

  • Grieving. The Mayo Clinic identifies the grieving process as a healthy part of recovery. Victims need time to grieve the loss of the way they were, although it is important to set goals related to moving forward. Mental health professionals and support groups can help one move through the grieving process.
  • Taking control. The Mayo Clinic contends that it is important for an SCI victim to educate himself or herself about his or her injury and about ways to reclaim an independent life. Economic assistance or support services for SCI victims may be available from the state or federal government or from charitable organizations.
  • Talking about one’s disability. A willingness to educate friends and family about one’s spinal cord injury can help others understand how to help without helping too much, and the Mayo Clinic notes that talking about one’s injury often strengthens relationships with friends and family.
  • Finding ways to enjoy intimacy. Health care providers and professional counselors can help SCI victims and their partners communicate their needs and feelings and learn how to experience intimacy following a spinal cord injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury and negligence may have contributed to your injury, contact an experienced Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney to find the legal support you need during this challenging time.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.