Every eight hours someone in the United Kingdom sustains a spinal cord injury, either through accident or illness. One of those people was Anne*. She was only 18-years-old when a blood vessel in her neck burst and bled into her spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis from the chest down. Aside from the physical barriers, the injury also had a significant impact on her mental health.
Anne was on her way back from an audition at the Royal College of Music when the blood vessel burst. When it first happened, she didn’t realise how serious the situation was. She told the IPF: “I thought that as it had all happened so suddenly it would just suddenly get better.”
“Never did I think that this was going to be permanent.”
Anne ended up spending eight months in a specialist spinal cord injury centre in Salisbury, where she went through intense rehabilitation. Rehabilitation at spinal centres mainly focuses on the physical aspect of spinal cord injury and teaches patients how to live their lives in a wheelchair.
However, most newly injured people suffer from mental health issues as well, including depression. Research conducted by Back Up, a national charity helping people affected by spinal cord injury, found that 20% of people leave NHS spinal centres clinically depressed, while 32% have clinical anxiety. Anne was never diagnosed with depression, but she struggled to adjust to life with spinal cord injury.
Read more of my articles from The IPF here.