Coping with a Traumatic SCI: What Caregivers Can Expect

By Roll Rev

April 12, 2017

Topics: Spinal Cord Injury

The emotional rollercoaster that follows a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be difficult to navigate through. Sustaining a SCI is life changing, and depending on the way it happened, it can be a traumatic experience. While everyone processes emotions and experiences differently, you can expect that this process will involve multiple stages of coping for your loved one.


Following a spinal cord injury, your loved one may be in a state of denial. This period of time can be full of a range of different emotions including confusion, agitation, refusing to acknowledge what has happened, and acting in ways that they typically wouldn’t act. You may find that your loved one has shut himself off from others.


Coinciding with denial or occurring in its own stage, a period of anger typically occurs when your loved one begins to realize what has actually happened. Depending on the way they sustained their SCI, your loved one may be angry with himself or with the person who caused the injury. The length of this stage is often determined by how the injury was sustained.


When your loved one starts making claims that they would do anything to go back to the way things were or offering to trade certain things to return to what they once considered normal, they have entered into the bargaining stage. As they seem to have realized their condition, this can look something like the beginning of acceptance. It can be hard for others to watch as they know that their loved ones bargaining won’t help them recover.


Coping with a Traumatic SCI: What Caregivers Can Expect

When anger and bargaining don’t work, your loved one may enter into a period of depression. At this stage, they may start to blame themselves and feel like there’s no point in continuing through this journey when things will never be the same.


Acceptance is the final stage of the coping process, but it’s not to be confused with the end of the emotional road. In this stage, your loved one has come to terms with the fact that they cannot change what has happened to them. They start to change their thinking from “there’s no point” to “I might as well make the most of this.”


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Source:, Accessed: 3/9/17


Roll Rev

Roll Rev

The information within this post is not nor is intended to be medical advice. Invacare Corporation accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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