...coming to terms with an injury
After suffering from a devastating injury while taking part in Channel 4’s show, The Jump, British gymnast Beth Tweddle has revealed that she is seeking the support of a psychologist to help her deal with her debilitating injury.
Noting that there has been an increased awareness of the psychological effects of serious injury, Anna Thompson – Associate CILEx at Simpson Millar – explains how psychologically challenging injuries can affect anyone.
Suffering a spinal cord injury
Beth Tweddle, who retains the title of Britain’s most decorated female gymnast despite her retirement in 2013, fractured 2 vertebrae in her neck while taking part in popular competition programme, The Jump.
The devastating accident, which left her requiring serious reconstructive surgery, occurred during training and seriously affected her ability to move freely.
After months of physiotherapy and support from medical professionals, Beth was able to walk independently; however, her rehabilitation is not fully complete.
Psychological effects of serious injuries
Speaking recently of her injury and the recovery process, Beth said that she still finds it difficult to talk about the injury and is using a psychologist to try and help her process the details of the accident.
While the psychological effects of serious injuries – specifically spinal cord injuries – have long been established, a new study is looking into health behaviours and the challenges of managing spinal cord injuries.
One of the reasons for the increased acknowledgement of the psychological effects of serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries, could be a more prevalent understanding of the debilitating nature of such injuries.
For the victims of serious spinal cord injuries, their lives change overnight and they often find themselves losing all independence in the aftermath of an accident.
As Anna explains, the recovery process for serious injuries has changed in recent years and there is now a greater appreciation of the psychological effects of serious injuries:
“Although the process of rehabilitation has traditionally been viewed as ‘physical’ in nature, it is now considered a multi-faceted process involving not only the services of surgeons and physiotherapists but also exercises scientists, dieticians, athletic coaches, and sport psychologists, particularly in the world of Sports Injuries.”
“However, over the last decade, we in the legal profession have identified increasing numbers of injured parties suffering from increasing psychological injuries; on some occasions, being far more severe than the physical injuries sustained by the injured person initially. These could be related to the incident itself or the difficulties they have had in dealing with the effects of the physical injuries upon them, and their families.”
“These can be office workers, members of the rescue services, sportsmen and women, or civil servants. There is no particular ‘type’ of injured person that can suffer with psychological injuries following accidents resulting in injuries, no matter what the circumstances of the accident are.”
“Rehabilitation has increasingly become a multi-disciplinary approach, and must be dealt with in this way. The psychological impact can be more devastating than the physical impact, and if not dealt with may leave the injured person with permanent injuries, and, in addition, if untreated can even prolong the physical injuries.”
Written by Anna Thompson
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