A Lifestyle with Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal Cord Injury Support Groups
You may be wondering whom you can go to for help with medical care, rehabilitation services, counseling, financial advice, assistance with disability or other claims and social services. Fortunately there are a number of organizations equipped to help the SCI community.
Spinal Cord Injury Organizations
* American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), which promotes standards for health care, education, and fosters research (www.asia-spinalinjury.org)
* Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, which seeks to provide a comprehensive, national source of information for people living with paralysis and their caregivers to promote health, foster involvement in the community, and improve quality of life (www.ChristopherReeve.org)
* National Spinal Cord Injury Association, whose purpose is to help SCI survivors make choices and take actions to achieve their highest level of independence and personal fulfillment (www.spinalcord.org)
* Paralyzed Veterans of America, a Congressionally chartered veterans service organization designed to improve the quality of life for people with SCI and act as a leading advocate for health care, SCI research and education, veterans' benefits and rights, accessibility and the removal of architectural barriers, sports programs, and disability rights (www.PVA.org)
Re-Entering the Work Force
After appropriate spinal cord injury medical treatment and rehabilitation many spinal cord injury survivors feel a strong desire to return to their prior activities, including work. There are studies that have shown that SCI survivors who return to work are less likely to need further medical treatments, ultimately had more years of education, and generally enjoyed a greater degree of satisfaction with the quality of their lives than individuals who were not employed. The reason for this is easy to see. Many people associate work with not only earning a living, but also their self-esteem, social interaction, independence and even their personal identity.
Current employment issues facing the SCI worker often include health and safety of the workplace, transportation, accessibility to the job and adaptive work equipment. Many of these issues can be addressed through a supported employment model that utilizes a person's existing abilities, provides on-the-job vocational interventions and a commitment from the employer for ongoing support during the employment period.
With the aid of supported employment, SCI workers can integrate into a competitive work environment. This generally requires a commitment from the spinal cord injury worker to engage in tailored career planning and a diligent job search as well as a commitment from potential employers to provide on the job support and retention services. There are many potential employers, both public and private, who are willing to make such accommodations for the committed spinal cord injury worker.