One of the worst outcomes of an auto accident is a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis. Any degree of paralysis is likely to impact you and your family for years to come. The medical bills and loss of income may seem devastating. Before you accept a settlement from the insurance company, consider whether it will meet your long-term needs as well as those in your immediate future.
Here is what you may be facing in the weeks and months ahead.
Your physical therapist will tailor your program to your individual limitations, needs and priorities. You may be able to improve your motor function with stretches, strength training and balance exercises. Your formal rehabilitation period may last weeks or months. However, you are likely to require occasional visits for years as your needs change.
Home and car modifications
Many individuals with paralysis return home in a wheelchair. Most homes are not built for wheelchair access, so you will likely need to make changes to your house and yard.
Wheels turn best on smooth, hard surfaces. Pave driveways and replace plush carpets with wood, vinyl or tile. Widen doorways and hallways. If you have stairs, install a wheelchair lift so you can access the upper floor.
You may still be able to drive following your injury. However, the adaptive equipment may not fit in your current vehicle. You may need to purchase a new car or van.
Mental health support
A spinal cord injury affects just about every aspect of your life, so naturally it may affect your mental health as well. Daily activities that used to come easily may now require tremendous effort, and relearning tasks can cause mental fatigue. Facing sudden changes, severe limitations and chronic pain can lead to anxiety and depression.
Do not let financial worries cause you to neglect your mental health. Seeing a therapist or counselor can significantly improve your quality of life.