Traumatic Stress Following Spinal Cord Injury, pp. 447-463
Authors: Rushina Harishkumar Bhatt and Samuel T. Gontkovsky
Abstract: The devastating consequences of a spinal cord injury (SCI) may influence detrimentally a personís psychological well-being. Indeed, it has been suggested that SCI can result in loss of sensation, impaired mobility, problems with bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, and chronic pain (Elliott & Rivera, 2003), while also impacting a personís cognitive and emotional functioning. Psychological issues following SCI are important to consider, whether in terms of assessment, recovery, rehabilitation, coping, or caregiving. Lack of knowledge about psychological issues involved in SCI can make people uncomfortable or hesitant about their interactions with those who have SCI. This chapter will help readers acquire an increased understanding and perhaps sensitivity to the distress an individual may experience after sustaining a spinal cord injury. An emphasis will be placed on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in particular, following SCI. This is accomplished by first reviewing empirical studies and then shifting to a discussion of human experiences and existential issues in SCI. Letís begin by examining the impact of SCI on the perception of the most important person in the treatmentóthe patient.