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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - Life With a Spinal Cord Injury


Grief is one of the many challenges of adjusting to life after a spinal cord injury. It's your reaction to loss, and it affects you both emotionally and physically. But letting your emotions control you can result in unhealthy decisions and behavior, a longer rehab, and taking longer to adjust to your spinal cord injury (SCI). Feeling and naming your emotions, and talking to others about them, will help you feel more solid and in control.

Talking to a professional counselor who understands the challenges of living with an SCI can be very helpful during tough times.

Recommended Related to Brain & Nervous System

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a very rare disorder that causes the brain to break down. Also called "classic" CJD, it worsens quickly. Most people die within a year of getting it. The disease destroys brain cells. Seen through a microscope, it makes the brain look like a sponge. Classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is not the same as “mad cow disease," which only happens in cattle. It's also not linked to "variant" CJD, which comes from products made from cattle that had mad cow disease.

Read the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease article > >

For more information on the grieving process, see the topic Grief and Grieving.

Chronic pain

Pain in an SCI can be complicated and confusing. You may feel pain where you have feeling. But you may also feel pain in an area where otherwise you have no feeling. The pain may be severe at some times. But at other times it may disappear or bother you only a little.

The most common type of pain is neuropathic pain, caused by damage to the nervous system. Other types of pain include musculoskeletal pain (in the bones, muscles, and joints), and visceral pain (in the abdomen).

Don't ignore your pain. Talk to your doctor about it. He or she can help figure out the type of pain and how to manage it. Also, pain can signal a more serious problem.

The best treatment depends on the type of pain. But you will probably need to:

For more information on managing pain, see the topic Chronic Pain.

Strength and flexibility

Movement is what keeps your muscles strong and your joints flexible. So if you cannot move your muscles and joints easily, you may lose strength and some of your range of motion. This will make it harder to perform daily activities, such as getting dressed or moving between your wheelchair and other locations. With exercise, you can keep or improve your flexibility and reduce muscle spasticity. Exercise can also help prevent heart problems, diabetes, pressure sores, pneumonia, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and weight problems.

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