Living with a catastrophic injury is usually not an easy task. It takes time to adjust to the way you have to live. Maybe you've broken your back and have no feeling below the waist, or you hit your head, suffered a traumatic brain injury and can no longer balance well or walk confidently. Whatever your challenge is, it often takes time and perseverance to overcome.
Catastrophic injuries are defined as those that affect the brain, spinal cord or spine. They can lead to permanent disability, chronic pain and other problems.
How can you learn to live with a catastrophic injury?
To start with, remember that your injuries will heal to an extent, no matter what they are. Even spinal injuries generally recover to some degree within the first six months and then continuously through the next 12 months. Most recovery happens in the first half-year following the accident. During this time, it's important to follow treatment plans closely and to do all you can to work through rehabilitation and healing techniques.
With brain injuries, the initial recovery is within the first six months to one year. However, people often see improvement up to two years later. Even more improvements can be made after this, but these are usually slower.
In both cases, rapid healing takes place in the first few months following an injury, so getting medical care is the best path toward retaining as much function as possible.
After the injury has stabilized, you'll be able to begin focusing on adjusting to the way your body is, at least in the immediate future. If you have paralysis, you may need to begin using tools to help you live independently. Some people cannot live independently following an injury, so it will take time to get used to asking for help from others or working with health care aids on a daily basis.
People may struggle with frustration and anxiety, depression or even suicidal thoughts following a catastrophic injury. Do all you can to address your mental health at the same time as your physical health. Therapists, your family, friends and others want to see you healthy and happy.
Your situation is different now, but that does not mean that you are not valuable or worth the effort it will take to live a better quality of life. With support and help, anyone with a catastrophic injury can regain some function and a degree of independence.