Last updated on May 23rd, 2022
The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) is a national charity that is dedicated to helping individuals who are affected by spinal cord injury. The mission of the organisation is to educate, advise and support all those whose lives are affected by spinal cord injury, which includes sufferers as well as their families.
Spinal cord injury can have a life-changing impact on a person. Most people with this injury require life-long care. The SIA helps sufferers receive the specialist treatment, care and rehabilitation that they require. They also help the injured to integrate fully into society and be active participants in their communities.
The Impact Of Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is composed of a thick roll of nerves, which carry messages from the brain to the different parts of the body. These messages control our movements and all of our bodily functions, from breathing, blinking and moving to our bladder and bowel movements. Damage to the spinal cord can disrupt all of these functions. This is because the damage breaks the communication between the brain and the rest of the body, so no messages can be sent out to control all of these actions.
Spinal cord injury can be caused by a trauma such as an accident or abuse or because of an infection. Whatever the reason, the impact can be devastating and can result in loss of sensation and movement in various parts of the body, depending on the exact site of injury.
An injury to the spinal cord in the neck can result in tetraplegia, in which sensation is lost in all four limbs and sometimes in the chest muscles and stomach too. An injury to the spinal cord in the back can result in paraplegia, in which sensation is lost in the legs and some stomach muscles. It is important to be aware that the symptoms and loss of sensation may vary from one person to another even if the damage has occurred in the same place.
The aftermath of a spinal cord injury can be traumatic. The biggest challenge for most people is coming to terms with their disabilities and the fact that they are going to be dependent on someone else for the remainder of their lives. The inability to go out on their own can lead to a feeling of isolation and other emotional issues. On top of everything else, the inability to hold a full time job combined with the escalating medical expenses can result in huge financial difficulties.
The trauma of the injury extends to family and friends who have to take on the role of caregivers.
How The SIA Helps
The Spinal Injuries Association operates on the premise that everyone affected by spinal cord injury should receive the care, treatment and support they need to lead a better quality of life and to rebuild their lives. One of the more unique features of the Spinal Injuries Association is that it is a user-led organisation, which means all of the managing members are spinal cord injured and can understand what a fellow sufferer is going through.
The SIA offers help through numerous channels. They provide a free telephone counselling service that allows you to talk in complete confidence to a qualified professional. Individuals are encouraged to call whenever they feel the need to, even on a regular basis if necessary.
The organisation has also developed a wide array of services and information resources to educate and support spinal cord injury sufferers of all ages, whether they are in a walker or wheelchair and whatever stage of the journey they are at. They also educate family and friend on what to do so they are better equipped to handle the lifelong commitment.
Some of the services that the SIA offers include:
- Assistance and support starting from the time of the injury for the rest of the paralysed person’s life.
- Various services aimed at enhancing quality of life.
- Educate individuals and their families on the long term consequences of spinal cord injury.
- Education, assistance and support for families of newly injured individuals.
- Campaigning for positive change in healthcare policy so that the needs of spinal cord injured persons are recognised and addressed by society as well as policy makers.
The Spinal Injuries Association has initiated various programs to help sufferers at different points of their journey.
They offer emotional support and education to those who are newly injured and going through a whole gamut of emotions. These individuals are also likely to have a lot of questions to ask about what to expect or how to handle certain aspects of everyday life. Because all SIA members are spinal cord sufferers, they are in a unique position to answer all questions and help the newly injured navigate through the ups and downs of their new journey and to lead a better quality of life.
Long-time sufferers also need help to manage several changes that occur due to the injury. While the long-term effects of spinal cord injury may vary from one person to another, in general the injury accelerates aging and also creates other imbalances in the body. The Spinal Injuries Association provides long term sufferers with useful resources that can help them live a better quality of life, no matter what stage they are at.
The inability to return to work or to participate in favourite activities can often lead to frustration and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. SIA’s Vocational Support Service is dedicated to providing individuals with the guidance, support and encouragement they need when considering a return to some semblance of normalcy. For some this may mean getting back to work, for others it may mean resuming their education or taking up some other sport or activity. This can have an incredibly positive impact on every aspect of your life, from your physical, mental and emotional health to your confidence, social interactions and earning potential.
If you are suffering from the consequences of a spinal cord injury, you can get the help you need from the Spinal Injuries Association to rebuild your life and live a better quality of life.