The complexities of spinal cord injuries and disorders

I thought that I should take a moment to share with you folks what I have learned regarding the complexities of spinal cord injuries and disorders.

I work with an organization that advocates on behalf of people with spinal cord injury. Some of our members have been injured in accidents and others have degenerative spinal cord disorders.

Over the past two years I have overseen many webinars where they discuss the various types of issues a person with spinal cord injury/disorders (SCI/D) confronts. As a listener, I have learned quite a bit about SCI/D. The topics we’ve covered range from getting the right type of wheelchair to maintaining sexuality after a spinal cord injury.

I’ve developed a much greater understanding of what people with SCI/D work with on a daily basis. And with that understanding I’ve come to appreciate how adaptive and creative these individuals must be on a daily basis. I mean you have to be creative when the environment is not built for you. One of my buddies said, “We are the original Hackers. We have to hack everything because it’s not built for us.”

You see, it’s not as simple as just sitting in a wheelchair. There are so many more things that are involved from waste removal, to protecting your skin, pain management, transportation and so much more. Most of us have no idea how complex a world this really is. For a long time I thought that if your legs didn’t move, that was it. But I was so wrong about what a spinal cord injury entails. 

Due to all that I’ve learned, I have a great appreciation for what companies like mine and others like us do to make living with SCI/D more accessible. Some of the ways that you can help (other than donating money) is by simply obeying accessibility parking and other laws that are in place to make the environment accessible. You might think it is an inconvenience, but it is not and you need to respect it.

I’ll give you an example, let’s take for instance an accessibility parking spot. One complaint that I’ve heard from able bodied people is “Why is it so damn big? It’s wasted parking space.” Well, is it? Let’s say you have a quadriplegic and he/she is riding a motorized chair, how do you think they exit their vehicle? There is a sliding door and then a ramp comes out and the passenger then exits via the ramp. How would they exit if your car was right on top of theirs? Get it? Now you can’t say that you didn’t know better! There’s so much more that goes into all this, but that’s just a quick example for you to consider the next time you are about to complain about a parking spot.

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