A spinal cord injury (SCI) can be life-altering for the injured person, but it can also be hard on that person’s family and friends. If you have a loved one who was recently injured, you may need time to grieve the way things used to be. While grieving is natural, it is also important to support your loved one as he or she tries to find a way to move forward with life.

Although you may have helped support your loved one over the years, the way you help may change because of that person’s injury. It can be difficult at first to determine where your help is needed, especially when your loved one may not yet understand the help he or she wants.

There may be several ways to help

Some ways you may be able to help include:

  • Being a good listener
  • Encouraging your loved one to get involved
  • Finding beneficial resources

However, understanding your loved one’s condition may serve as an appropriate first step. With an understanding of your loved one’s condition, you may be a more empathetic listener, you may better equipped to break down barriers that isolate your loved one and you may find more appropriate resources to benefit your loved one’s specific needs.

Be sure to understand at least the basics of SCIs

A SCI can be caused by damage to the spinal cord, but may also be caused by damage to vertebrae, ligaments or disks of the spinal column. Your spinal cord helps messages travel between the brain and body parts to control movement and sense heat, cold, pressure and pain. Damage to the spinal cord can disrupt these messages and cause permanent changes in body function below the injury site.

Your loved one’s symptoms may vary based on the location and severity of his or her injury. There is no way to reverse spinal cord damage, but new treatments, technologies and adaptations are regularly being developed.

Keep in mind that dealing with a SCI can be expensive for your loved one. Between emergency care, rehabilitation and ongoing care, the medical expenses alone can add up. However, there can also be a cost associated with new aspects of your loved one’s daily life, such as adding ramps, hiring transportation services, purchasing electronic aids and acquiring other items to help live more independently.

Depending on your loved one’s situation, it may be beneficial for him or her to seek justice. If someone else’s negligent actions caused your loved one’s injury, he or she may be able to receive compensation for some of those costs. While money will not reverse your loved one’s injury, it can help improve your loved one’s quality of life.