Normal reactions to a spinal cord injury

Normal reactions to a spinal cord injury

It's very common to experience some, if not all, of these symptoms at some point after a spinal cord injury

Anxiety – feeling scared, worried, jumpy and noticing heart racing, sweating, panic attacks, dizziness, muscle tension and difficulties sleeping.

Low mood – feeling down or sad, tired, hopeless. Noticing a change in appetite, lack of motivation or interest in things. Having thoughts to harm yourself.

Frustration – feeling angry, agitated or unable to control yourself, shouting at others or getting annoyed at yourself.

People sometimes experience nightmares, sudden memories and panic. People can struggle with pain, memory and adjusting to the changes in their lives. It is common to worry about relationships and your future.

Being on a hospital ward can also make all these above feel even more intense. 

Techniques to improve wellbeing

  • Goal setting – After a spinal cord injury, you’re likely to have lots of goals, but you may also have lots of uncertainty as you go through rehabilitation. It can be helpful to organise your goals in a way that works for you and think about which ones to focus on first. Keep them small and achievable.
  • Relaxation and mindfulness – Practice spending a brief amount of time only focusing on the present. Try to put any worries or thoughts aside and concentrate on one thing, whether it’s a meal, or a book, or just closing your eyes and listening.
  • Routines and healthy living – It can be really helpful to maintain a structure, whether you are in hospital or at home. Try to keep daily living to a similar schedule, and factor in activity, rest and things you enjoy. Make sure you eat well and keep to a sleep routine.
  • Talk to someone – Try telling someone how you’re feeling, perhaps a family member or friend, a staff member or someone from the Psychology team.