Health Hint! – Coping with a Spinal Cord Injury

Jun 23, 2021

Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness.  We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life.  Check out our latest Health Hint on how to cope with a spinal cord injury, written by our member charity, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO).  We hope you find it helpful.  If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities.

Spinal cord injury ontario logo

The Facts

A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time.  A car accident or a workplace injury, a surgery gone wrong, even aging or disease can change anyone’s life profoundly and permanently in the blink of an eye. 

Not surprisingly, the incidence of mental health issues including depression and suicide are 4 times higher for people who have sustained a spinal cord injury than the Canadian average.  For the newly injured, while in the rehabilitation hospital everything is designed for recuperation – the doctors, nurses and specialists are there for you.  But then, you “recover” and go home where you realize there are barriers at every turn, that is where isolation, frustration and depression can take hold. 

That is where Spinal Cord Injury Ontario steps in with 75 years of lived experience to help.

SCIO Community Connection

SCIO is a trusted source of knowledge and resources and the only organization in the province that offers a full spectrum of programs and services to meet the life-long needs of people with spinal cord injury.  Beyond our client-based programming, we have an active and engaged advocacy team and are broadening our wings in the sphere of knowledge enterprise as well.

Our client-based programming, known as SCIO Community Connection, is comprised of 4 key elements:

  1. Recovery Navigation
  2. Peer Support
  3. and
  4. Employment Services

Recovery Navigation

Through our 14 regional offices across the province, our team of Recovery Navigators, many of whom have a spinal cord injury, bring a wealth of knowledge to our clients on issues such as:

  • Health and wellness
  • Housing
  • Funding support
  • Equipment
  • Sexuality
  • Community resources
  • Transportation and
  • Social and recreational pursuits

Peer Support

SCIO-Connect, our signature peer support program, has been offered across the province for decades.  It includes both one-on-one mentorship and monthly workshops.  Through the matching of volunteer mentors with lived spinal cord injury experience, we have been able to help guide thousands of clients through the difficult, early stages of adjusting to their new circumstances.  The Workshops provide information and an important opportunity for newly injured people to connect with the spinal cord injury community which we have learned is pivotal to successful outcomes.

We recently developed SCIO-Connect for Families which is also a combination of one-on-one peer mentorship and group information sessions.  The program offers important practical information with a strong focus on caregiver wellness, stress management and communication.  We know that a resilient and healthy caregiver is an incredible asset on the road to recovery.

Equipment and Assistive Device Support

One of the greatest challenges to independent living is the cost of essential equipment and mobility aids.  For most equipment there is typically no financial assistance.  Even when support is available, 25% of the market cost must be contributed by the client; as a point of reference, a power wheelchair can cost as much as $20,000.  Through SCIO’s Enhancing Independence program, we help people access the equipment they need to safely return to living in the community such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, power lifts, commodes, ramps, safety grab bars, replacement power wheelchair batteries, and equipment repairs and installation.  Our resourceful staff use their networks to find additional sources of funding, deals on new equipment, and donations of used equipment.

Employment Services

Finally, in the Greater Toronto Area, SCIO offers an employment services program to help with the transition back to the work world. Everything from resume building and interview skills to negotiating for an accessible workspace is included.  Our team works to build connections between our clients and potential employers who are committed to an inclusive, accessible workplace.

COVID Impact

People with spinal cord injuries are particularly susceptible to the ravages of viruses such as COVID – so we took all our programming online this year!  We have been able to do so much connecting through technology.  Our Zoom Peer Connections Workshops have been a tremendous opportunity for our clients; we have even run the first three offerings of the new SCIO-Connect for Families completely online with great success.  We stepped up the production of content and provided open access to our online Cortree Disability Education Centre which is an incredible collection of information, videos and evidence-based courses for clients, their families, and caregivers.  COVID has increased the demand on the Enhancing Independence program because we are not able to offer the used equipment option at this time.

Call to Action

SCIO Community Connection is who we are and what we do.  We connect people who have experienced a spinal cord injury with the information and skills needed to navigate their recovery and facilitate their health and wellness.  We connect people with people – we are the heart of the spinal cord injury community.  We connect people with the equipment and aids that allow them to return to the community safely with as much independence as possible.  We connect people with work opportunities.  There is one more connection we need to make – we need to connect with you!  Your support is needed to build these connections and help people with a spinal cord injury live a safe, healthy, and full life.

We hope you liked our latest Health Hint!

Written by:
Wendy Hough
Development Officer, SCIO
For further information contact:
Tel | 613.862.0243
Email | wendy.hough@sciontario.org

If you would like to support those living with spinal cord injuries, you can donate to Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

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tel: 437-925-6227
email: sarah.wood2@ontario.ca

 

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