Since I was injured at nine months old, I don’t remember the car accident that caused my spinal cord injury nor do I remember learning how to walk. I never gave my physical limitations much thought since that was all I knew.
I learned how to adapt to the situation. I would always figure out a way to accomplish the task, even if took me twice as long as someone else. If I dropped something, I’ve learned that I can take a broom (or occasionally my mother’s walking cane), and sweep the items into a crate. Then I can pick the crate up and get the objects that I dropped.
When visiting newly-injured patients who are injured as teenagers or young adults, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have the ability to walk and run one day, and then lose that ability the next day. Family members also have a hard time accepting the disability.
I share with the patient and family that there will be some days that are more difficult than others. Try to focus on the positive abilities. There is a lot that can be done from a wheelchair. You can attend school, have a job and participate in adapted wheelchair sports. I’ve enjoyed participating in the spinal cord injury support group to learn from others who are going through similar situations.
It’s rewarding to share my accomplishments with new patients, but I probably learn just as much from them. Every spinal cord injury is different and it’s amazing to see that we can come together to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.
To learn more about new injury visits, go to http://www.scspinalcord.org/new-injury-visits.php.