The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by advancing innovative research and improving the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis, has partnered with Shepherd Center, a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury to introduce a new video series, Cultivating Resilience After Spinal Cord Injury Trauma. When an individual sustains a spinal cord injury (SCI), there is no one path for coping with the emotions and the adjustments that need to happen in one’s life. Many people have feelings of being lost, isolated and angry as they adapt to how best to navigate their changed lives.
“This series was developed by our organizations to serve individuals in the community who lack resources for counseling and need guidance regarding emotional healing. Regardless of the rehabilitation and counseling the person may or may not have received after a spinal cord injury, returning home can be an isolating and challenging experience,” said Diane M. Johnston, MSPT, Director of Professional Education at Shepherd Center.
“Our mutual goal is to provide the connections and real-life advice for individuals challenged by the emotional rollercoaster that is commonly experienced after a spinal cord injury, so they can continue to be productive and positive while faced with new challenges,” said Angela Cantillon, Director of Operations, Paralysis Resource Center.
In this video series, individuals express how they felt about their injury at various points of their life and commentary and insights from counselors and medical professionals. The topics covered in this series include:
Since sustaining a spinal cord injury, do you feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster? Do you feel like you are living someone else’s life? The process of emotional adjustment after spinal cord injury can take many paths. Connect with other people, like you, who share similar feelings by exploring shock and disbelief, feeling overwhelmed, denial, spiritual distress and gratitude. Learn how to define your feelings, build your confidence, and allow yourself to heal emotionally.
Do you ever ask yourself, “Who am I now”? Do you struggle with relating to yourself, your family or friends? Changes in your role in life and who you are now can be very challenging to your identity, confidence and relationships with other people. Discover who you are now and allow yourself to be redefined and to build relationships.
Re-examining Values and Beliefs
Have you ever asked, “Why me?” or “Why did God let this happen to me?” After a traumatic injury or illness, it is normal to reflect on your values and beliefs. Finding solace in your current situation can be very challenging. Learn to redefine your values and priorities with who you are now. Rediscover your beliefs and faith by connecting with others with spinal cord injury. Get advice from counselors and spiritual leaders.
After sustaining a spinal cord injury, feeling loss, sadness and even depression is a typical experience, but they can seem overwhelming and take the joy out of your daily life. Have you ever thought about hurting yourself? In this video, hear from other people who have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts and discover how they coped with helpful advice from counselors. Learn about new resources and how to get the help you need.
Have you ever had a panic attack or been overwhelmed by fear or anxiety? Anxiety and fear can dominate your life after a traumatic injury. In this video, learn how to calm your fears, cope with stress and what to do if you experience a panic attack.
Do you feel guilty that you survived or caused the accident? Do you feel guilty because you cannot financially provide in the same way for your family? Do you feel like a burden? Guilt is a common feeling that can overwhelm your daily life. Learn how to cope with these feelings and empower yourself to ask for help and negotiate your role and responsibility in your everyday life.
Feeling isolated and alone is not uncommon after sustaining a spinal cord injury. In this video, explore and connect with individuals who discuss their experience of isolation and loneliness. Learn how to cope, build your confidence and reconnect with those around you.
Do you feel angry about the accident, your current situation and changes in your life? Are you angry about surviving and for having to rely on other people to help you? Anger is a normal emotion to feel after a traumatic injury or illness. In this video, learn effective ways to express your anger, cope with daily life challenges, and use the anger to motivate you productively.
Finding Your Voice – Advocacy
Do you know how to advocate for yourself and effectively speak up for your needs? Do you know your rights and how to ask for accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Advocating for your needs can be tricky. Learn from the experience of others with spinal cord injury. Get advice from counselors for practical approaches to express your needs as you find your voice to take charge of your life effectively and respectfully.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis. By uniting the brightest minds in the field, we are working tirelessly to accelerate scientific discovery across the field of spinal cord research by investing in labs across the globe. Additionally, through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living, the Reeve Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) promotes the health, well-being, and independence of people living with paralysis, providing comprehensive information, resources, and referral services assisting over 100,000 individuals and families since its launch in 2002. The Reeve Foundation is committed to elevating our community’s voices and needs to achieve greater representation and independence. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB’s Charity Seal. For more information, please visit www.ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-225-0292.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year. For more information, please visit www.Shepherd.org or call 1-800-SHEPHERD.