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Adjusting to Spinal Cord Injury: Sadness, Grief and Moving Forward

A spinal cord injury can turn a person’s world upside down. In addition to the serious physical changes, SCI can be an emotional shock. Each person processes and comes to terms with these changes in their own way. Sadness, grief and even depression are frequent and normal responses to this kind of trauma, both for the injured person and for family members and loved ones.

While everyone's experience is unique, many people with SCI have told us that the videos and other materials listed here have helped them in their emotional adjustment.

Resilience, Depression and Bouncing Back after Spinal Cord Injury
Adjustment and mental health problems after spinal cord injury can be complicated and sometimes difficult to talk about. While most people with SCI do not become depressed, it is important to identify and help those who do. In this SCI Forum talk, UW rehab psychologist Charles Bombardier, PhD, focuses on who gets depressed after SCI, when and why. He covers what is known about common patterns of adjustment after SCI, how emotional responses to SCI compare to other forms of loss and trauma, and what can be done to manage and treat depression after SCI. (October 13, 2015)

Getting to Normal: Conversations about Adjustment after Spinal Cord Injury
Three individuals with spinal cord injuries share their personal journeys of adjusting to life with a spinal cord injury, from initial grief and dark days to finding a path to a fulfilling life and a "new normal." This SCI Forum panel discussion is moderated by Dr. Jeanne Hoffman, rehabilitation psychologist in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. (November 10, 2015)

Moving Forward After Spinal Cord Injury
This short documentary profiles a young man who sustained a spinal cord injury during his freshman year in college. As he narrates his journey with tetraplegia (quadriplegia) —the traumatic early days, the challenges and achievements—we see the images of his present day life: driving to his full-time engineering job, living in his condo, partying with friends before a football game, and continuing his passion for skiing.

Depression after Spinal Cord Injury: Myths and Facts
While some degree of sadness and grief is normal after SCI, most people with SCI go on to live fulfilling lives that include love, family, work and fun. Persistent depression occurs in about one out of five people with SCI and needs to be recognized and treated because it can keep people from getting as much function, independence and satisfaction out of life as possible. This article describes myths and facts about depression and the many approaches available for decreasing or eliminating depression so you can get on with life.

It Happened to Both of Us: Conversations with Couples
The impact of SCI is felt by the whole family, especially a spouse or partner. In this video, a panel of couples who were together before an injury and are still together talk about their experiences and what they do to stay connected and maintain a healthy relationship.

Staying Healthy After a Spinal Cord Injury: Depression and SCI
This pamphlet provides guidelines for recognizing if you or someone you know might be depressed and what to do about it.

Life after SCI: A Mother's Story
A mother talks frankly about her reactions and feelings after her teenage son sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident.

Conversations about…living with a spinal cord injury
This video features three men and one woman, all with longstanding spinal cord injuries, who talk about their personal experiences living, surviving and thriving with their injuries. They share their initial reactions, adjustment, steps toward independence and thoughts about their injuries now.

See all of our videos at http://sci.washington.edu/videos.