A spinal cord injury is a traumatic and devastating injury. Spinal cord injuries can cause an array of issues for the injured person. Changes in strength and sensation can sometimes result in permanent paralyzation that affects mobility and the ability to engage in daily activities. The debilitating effects of this type of injury can also lead to mental wellness challenges like depression and coping with anxiety about the future. In short, this is a life-changing injury that requires significant re-learning and adapting to a new reality for both the injured person and their loved ones. It can feel overwhelming.
If someone you love is suffering from a spinal cord injury, your role in their recovery will be crucial, but you may feel helpless with no idea how to help. Your loved one may be grieving their former life, and may be struggling with low self esteem or depression after their injury. You may also be feeling the same sadness, which is both normal and understandable.
As experienced personal injury lawyers we’ve helped a wide variety of spinal cord injury clients move forward. This post shares some of the things we’ve learned along the way to provide some help to those of you who suddenly find yourselves as a primary or significant caregiver for someone with a spinal cord injury.
The duties of helping someone recovering from a life changing injury can range from arranging appointments with doctors and lawyers to offering a listening ear. The first step is learning what you can about the injury.
Educating Yourself on Spinal Cord Injuries
To effectively support someone with a spinal cord injury understanding their specific injury is key. Understanding their injury, what treatments they might need, and how it affects their day-to-day life will go a long way in reassuring your family member or friend that they’re not alone in their journey to recovery. Include investigating help available for caregivers and family members as well. Caring for a critically injured person is hard work both physically and emotionally. You also need support.
Spinal Cord Injury Resources
It is not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the amount of information available. To help filter information so you get what you need for your situation, here are some organizations that assist and empower people with spinal cord injuries:
- Spinal Cord Injury Alberta
- Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (Edmonton)
- Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program (Calgary)
- Spinal Cord Injury Canada
- North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium
We have also put together a list of answers to common questions that those with a spinal cord injury may have on their road to recovery.
Look for peer support and family support programs. Talking to others who have been where you are can be very helpful both in terms of getting practical tips and to share with someone who already knows what you are going through.
Helping Navigate the Medical System
Sometimes when someone is suffering from a spinal cord injury, they may be unable to advocate for themselves. By attending their medical appointments with them, not only for moral support, but also as an advocate, you can ensure they’re getting quality care. Write down the thoughts, instructions, and diagnosis of doctors and rehab specialists. This information can be very helpful as they move forward in their recovery process.
You may find this Patient and Family Care Resource Kit produced by Alberta Health Services helpful.
Setting Goals for Their Recovery
When someone is first diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, they may feel like they’ve completely lost any dreams they’ve had for the future. These feelings are completely normal. A good way to help guide your loved one towards recovery is to help them set physical and personal goals. By encouraging them through to each milestone, you’ll help build their confidence as they move through each stage of recovery. Again, helping them locate and engage with a peer support group can be invaluable.
Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s important to protect the legal rights of your loved one when they’ve suffered from a spinal cord injury. You can help them by developing a shortlist of lawyers to help manage their injury claim. Choosing the right lawyer is critical in securing fair compensation.
For more information on what to look for in a personal injury lawyer you may find the following posts helpful:
- Four questions to ask your personal injury lawyer
- Finding the best personal injury lawyer for your car accident claim
The key takeaway is that in cases involving catastrophic injuries like spinal cord or brain injuries you would be wise to hire a lawyer who has specific experience with these kinds of cases. You don’t want someone learning on the job at your expense.
You may also find it useful to understand something about the injury claims process in Alberta before you meet with a lawyer. We developed the CAM LLP Injury Law Handbook to help with that. The handbook covers:
- What to do if you are involved in a car accident.
- Information on standard automobile policies, including Section B Accident Benefits.
- Sources of compensation that may be available to you if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.
- The standard steps in a personal injury claim.
- Things you can do to help your lawyer to help you.
Download a copy of the CAM LLP Injury Law Handbook.
About CAM LLP Injury Lawyers
At CAM LLP we understand that the compensation process can be stressful, particularly when you’re helping someone recover from a spinal cord injury. We will take the time to investigate the full impact of their injuries so you can understand their options and help form a plan that gives them access to the resources they need to progress their recovery.
It’s in the best interest of the person who has been injured to speak with a personal injury lawyer shortly after the injury. We offer free consultations, and are happy to help you decide the best action forward for your loved one.