Life with a SCI: Important Health Care Providers

By Patty Kunze, RN, BSN and Roberta Palmer, RN

It’s important for all of us to have a health care provider to help manage our health care needs.  For most people, that means having a local family doctor that we trust to care for us.  This provider may also be known as your Primary Care Physician. However, life with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) changes the scope of care many of us may need to care for our new bodies, especially early on.  I never gave this topic a thought after my injury, as there were so many other things that seemed more important to focus on when I got home from the hospital.  Yet, getting the ball rolling to find the right types of health care providers is just as important.  We need to learn what to expect from our bodies and who can help us to care for them so we can stay healthy.   Following is a list of types of specialty physicians that you may encounter or call upon to keep you in good health when living with a SCI.

PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN:   A primary care physician can be thought of as your medical home. He or she is the first healthcare professional you contact when you have a question or need. This is the doctor who can handle a variety of medical problems, who provides preventive care and advice, who maintains your medical history and can refer you to specialists when needed.  

10 Reasons Why We are Thankful for Our Disability

By Wendy Crawford & The Team

Over 32 years ago, I lay in a hospital bed with a metal halo screwed into my skull, immobilizing my neck. I had a C5/C6 injury due to a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver. I was paralyzed from the collarbones down, parts of my arms and my hands and needed a tracheotomy to breathe. I was scared, depressed and angry. How could this happen to me? I was independent, adventurous and athletic. This does not happen to people like myself. I didn't know where I was going to live nor how I was going to manage physically and financially. If someone told me then that someday I would actually be grateful in some ways for my disability, I would've screamed at them that they were out of their mind!

But the years passed and I began to realize that this massive hurdle that was thrown at me as a young adult, came with unexpected gifts that slowly rose to the surface, often difficult to identify through my tunneled negative vision.

The older that I get, the more in touch I am with myself and the more that I have learned to embrace the positives. We all have obstacles, relatively speaking, that are overwhelming at times but if we force ourselves to look introspectively, we will see that those challenges are actually the tools that have sculpted us into the person that we have become.

Diabetes with Spinal Cord Injury: November is Diabetes Month

By Patty Kunze, RN, BSN and Roberta Palmer, RN

Years ago, someone came up with the idea to recognize a condition each month.  For example, September is spinal cord injury month, October is Breast Cancer awareness month, and November is the month of diabetes awareness.  Awareness months, weeks, and days are important because they allow people with certain health conditions, along with their loved ones, advocacy organizations, and support groups, to rally around a common cause: health. Educational, fundraising, and support events are often held during these times.  Upon our investigation, two different sites did not list September as being Spinal Cord Injury Month although Congress designated it to be so in July 2015.   It would be interesting to know if only the U.S. spinal cord injury population is raising awareness during the month of September but that’s another story.  

Step Change Studios: Breaking the Boundaries of Ballroom

By Rashmi Becker

Founder, Rashmi Becker (on left) with dancer, Laura Dajao
Born in London, England, I started out as a competitive ice skater and began dancing to help my skating. As the younger sister of someone with Autism and learning disabilities, I became aware of the benefits of dance from an early age. Music and movement were a fantastic way, for my brother and me to connect and for him to communicate, manage his anxiety, develop coordination and to just feel free.

As an adult, I began working with people with learning disabilities and continued to see the benefits of dance, as well as recognize hidden talent. I became involved in various advocacy activities to support disabled people to have a voice and to have the same opportunities to participate in society, as everyone else. I continued to dance socially throughout my adult life, developing a love of Latin and Ballroom dance. In 2012, I performed in the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games which was an amazing experience that drew a diverse community together in celebration.

In 2013, I became a Board Member of the English Federation for Disability Sport and in 2016, a Patron for a wheelchair dance charity. Both roles reaffirmed my commitment to improving opportunities for disabled people to be active, included and to be able to dance, compete and perform alongside their non-disabled peers. I also began performing at community and charity events and saw how much people enjoyed dancing or wanted to dance but had few opportunities to do so. The turning point came when I enabled two ladies with disabilities, to realize their dream to dance by performing at a black-tie ball and I knew this needed to be the norm not the exception.