Those who are left with spinal cord injuries following a traumatic event not only face grueling physical recovery but also have to grapple with the psychological repercussions of their limited mobility.
One 2012 study of 50 spinal cord injury patients tracked the manner in which their injuries affected the quality of their lives. There was ample evidence that the SCI affected sleeping patterns, sexual expression and relationships with partners. Patients expressed concerns that they had become burdens to loved ones and had to make significant social adjustments.
Spinal cord injuries alter patients’ behavioural, psychological, social and physical functioning. Modern medical techniques have extended the life expectancy of SCI patients, but the corollary associated with that are the secondary complications that present challenges to independent living.
SCI patients suffer from neuropsychological deficits like:
— Shortened attention spans
— Impaired memory
— Decreased concentration
— Limited learning ability
— Reduced ability to problem solve
Anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder form a triad of common symptoms in SCI patients after their trauma. They are at a much higher risk of developing the “Four D Syndrome”: drug addiction, depression, dependency and divorce. Due to the decrease in both sexual and genital functioning, over 40 per cent of men living with SCI are dissatisfied with their sex lives. Another 34 per cent are unhappy with their relationships with their intimate partners. Sleep disturbances also frequently accompany SCI.
It is vital that anyone with SCI who is pursuing a claim for compensation for the injuries they suffered in the traumatic event factor in the devastating psychological and social consequences of their injuries. Many will return repeatedly to the hospital for treatment of their injuries or secondary complications stemming from them. They may never again be able to be a wage earner, or their financial contributions may drop precipitously.
A legal professional may be able to quantify the extensive quality of life damages and seek compensation that may improve the lives of SCI patients and their family members.