Speaking to people who understand the situation you or a loved one find themselves in, can really help when dealing with something as traumatic as a spinal cord injury. It might just be one quick question you have to ask or an ongoing dialogue to assist in a variety of areas.
Equally it is important to be sensitive to each individual, being bombarded with facts and ideas can also have an adverse affect.
With all this in mind, RST have put together a team of people who have a knowledge and understanding of spinal cord injury. Each person has kindly volunteered their time to us and each can offer advice from a different angle / prospective.
You don’t have to face this alone.
My name is Kevin Hartie, I am 34 years old and I live in Essex. I’ve recently completed a Masters degree in psychology and hope to do further studies in this area in the future. During my studies I researched the psychological impact of spinal cord injury (SCI) on individuals, focusing specifically on participants that have adjusted successfully to SCI in spite of the challenging circumstances they face. Interestingly, some people show positive changes as a result of trauma and after initially suffering from stress, they eventually recover and following significant hard work and positive thinking, display signs of growth. I am currently involved in some voluntary work for the Backup Trust, an organisation that supports SCI individuals, as a mentor and administration support for the mentoring team.
My story will be familiar to many people reading this. About 10 years ago, at the age of 23, I suffered a SCI playing rugby. I sustained a C4 fracture and instantly, my life changed forever. The injury was severe and I spent many weeks on a life-support machine paralysed from the neck down. As time went by, I regained movement and was strong enough to breathe on my own. After spending time in a spinal unit, I returned home to live with my parents and to a life which no longer seemed familiar to me. It took time to me to adjust and adapt to my SCI and I was fortunate to have the support, environment and importantly, time to adjust.
Since my accident I have managed to accomplish many positive things. I now live independently in a house I bought and renovated. I went skiing in Sweden with Backup – being in the cold meant facing up to one of my biggest fears since the injury. I returned to university and completed an MSc in psychology. I trained as a mentor providing support to individuals that have SCI. I recently gave a presentation about mentoring and the work that Backup do, to a packed room at City Hall in London. With determination and support I’ve rediscovered my place in the world and look forward to many future opportunities.
My name is Lianne. In 2001, at the age of 22, my life took a dramatic turn when I was injured in a car accident and severely damaged my spinal cord at the C5/6 vertebrae. I faced life with paralysis.
When I was first injured, waking up every day faced with this reality was far from easy. My life lost all meaning and my future seemed inconceivable. With the support and encouragement of family and friends, it took time for me to get used to a life after injury; to set new goals to pursue, to accept and adjust to the realities of my condition.
The turning point for me was meeting my physiotherapist, Sylvia Hogarth. She saw potential in me and this fuelled my motivation to do something positive to help myself. My own experience has taught me the value of positive thinking and self belief. By focusing on the challenges in front of me, I have learned how to live a fuller and more independent life.
I would very much welcome the opportunity to share my experiences and offer some guidance to anyone who finds themselves dealing with the realities of spinal cord injury.
Javid has worked as a spinal rehabilitation specialist nurse for many years. Currently working at the spinal unit in Sheffield, Javid has a vast amount of experience and knowledge to share with others. We know first hand what a great guy and amazing nurse Javid is, which is why we invited him to join the team at RST.
Javid told us ” I knew what a courageous person Marrianne was after day one of her injury, she has inspired so many and it is a pleasure for me to help her help others”.
Do you have a question for Javid?
Paul is a partner at law firm Serious Law. Serious Law specialise in one area of law – serious injury. This provides a series of unique benefits to their clients, as all lawyers working on their behalf are dedicated to acting in situations such as theirs. Serious Law have built a team, and range of services which sets them apart from other law practices. Their in-depth knowledge ensures that clients receive the correct financial awards, along with the best medical, rehabilitation, accommodation and transportation solutions.
Paul is head of the catastrophic injury team and has over two decades of experience dealing with those affected by spinal injury. Paul is an expert in understanding the detailed medical and legal process requirements of spinal injury cases and has dealt with some of the largest and most high profile to be brought before the courts. Do you have a question for Paul?
My name is Adam Harrington. I’m a Building Services Engineer and Managing Director of Mount Pleasant Building Services. One of the departments I oversee in our organisation deals with the very specialised area of accessibility and therapeutic living for those with spinal cord injury. I’m extremely fortunate to have some gifted and driven people on my team, including our Building Surveyor Simone. Simone is passionate about her work and is at the forefront of thinking for accessible living. With 20 years experience, Simone has also consulted on the 2012 Paralympic games.
I’m also proud to mention that Marrianne and Andrew, from RST, help to advise our team and bring their personal experience and empathy to our projects.
If you have a question relating to work that you might need in your own home or need pointing in the right direction, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to donate some time to a great charity like RST.
“At Back Up we know a spinal cord injury can be devastating, but we believe that it shouldn’t prevent anyone from getting the most out of life”.
This long established and well respected charity offers a number of services for people affected by spinal cord injury. The mentoring service is something that we at RST are particularly interested in and would highly recommend others to try. Whether it’s you or a loved one who has an injury the service has so much to offer.
“Through our accredited mentoring service, we will link you up with a trained volunteer mentor who is a similar age and injury level to you or a family mentor whose relative has a similar injury. Our mentors come from all walks of life and we can often link you with a spinal cord injured peer or relative whose life experiences are relevant for you”.
You can check out more details on the Back Up website. We have also spoken to the guys at Back Up about potentially sponsoring people to undergo this brilliant service. We hope that from 2012 onwards we can make this happen and do our bit to aid the great work at Back Up.
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