Facing a spinal cord injury (SCI) is difficult, and individual and families have several questions and concerns. Many people turn to the internet for answers, and while there are truly great resources out there, there is also a whole lot of misinformation.
To combat some of the misinformation that circulates around the web, we’ve put together a list of nine common myths and the truth behind them.
SCI Rehabilitation Myths
Myth: Rehabilitation results are usually easy to predict.
Fact: Rehabilitation techniques and technologies have come a long way in the last three decades, however there are still too many variables involved to accurately predict the outcome of any program. Every person is different, with unique needs and concerns. In truth, all anyone can do work hard, get expert opinions, and have patience.
Myth: Attitude is irrelevant to rehabilitation for a physical injury.
Fact: Attitude has a huge impact on the success of a rehabilitation program, as there is a strong link between the mind and body. A positive attitude makes a significant difference in helping someone to achieve the highest level of independence possible, and helps an individual stay dedicated throughout the rehabilitation process. A positive attitude can’t work miracles, but it can make for a smoother journey.
Myth: Rehabilitation is easier for young people.
Fact: Every person responds to an SCI and the subsequent rehabilitation differently, irrespective of age. While some younger people may have more energy, many older people have valuable life experiences to draw upon in order to push through difficult times. Many factors are involved, including the type of injury and the support system surrounding the individual. Each case presents its own challenges and opportunities.
SCI Lifestyle Myths
Myth: SCI patients will never move again.
Fact: Just like each person is unique, so is each injury. With SCI injuries, there is likely to be a loss of feeling and movement, but the extent of that loss and the ability to regain movement through rehabilitation is different for everyone.
Myth: People with an SCI can’t work anymore.
Fact: Most SCI patients return to work in some capacity within a year, and many of those are able to continue in their pre-SCI jobs. Even for those who must switch career paths, there are many opportunities available and an occupational therapist can help determine the best course of action.
Myth: Spinal Cord Injuries remain the same throughout a person’s lifetime.
Fact: Everyone’s body changes as they age, and SCI patients are no different. SCI-related complications may present themselves over the years. There are a variety of factors involved in determining a person’s risk for complications and some of these can be managed with foresight and planning, like weight management, proper skin care, and continued rehabilitation as needed. Some are beyond a person’s control, however. It’s important to have a knowledgeable health team to be able to identify and mitigate possible future complications.
SCI Family Myths
Myth: An SCI prohibits a person from having children.
Fact: As SCI has no lasting effect on fertility, many SCI patients are still able to have children. Women face more challenges to having children than men, but with many injuries it is still possible for women to have successful pregnancies. Men may also face some complications, but there are many assisted reproductive technologies that can help.
Myth: There is little a family can do for support after an SCI.
Fact: Just as attitude matters in rehabilitation, so does a family’s contribution and involvement. An active and involved support system of family and friends contributes greatly to a person’s emotional and physical well-being after an SCI.
Myth: Rehab ends when you leave the hospital.
Fact: Dealing with an SCI is a lifelong process, and the end of rehabilitation is just the beginning. The time after rehabilitation is when it becomes crucial to have a clear, long-term management plan in place. At this stage friends, family, and a medical team can help support the person and afford them the highest quality of life possible.