Everything I've Learned While Working With Spinal Cord Injury Patients
Start writing a post

Everything I've Learned While Working With Spinal Cord Injury Patients

You would think that these patients, who are almost all paralyzed in some capacity, would be extremely negative and frustrated. But it's quite the opposite.

Everything I've Learned While Working With Spinal Cord Injury Patients
Grace Bellman

This spring semester, I started working at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The Shepherd Center is one of the nation's top 10 rehabilitation hospitals. It treats around 900inpatientst from all over the US and the world, and specializes in treating spinal cord and brain injuries.

I applied at the end of last semester to work and volunteer in one of their physical therapy gyms. In fact, I got the inspiration to write my "career soulmate" article from attending the volunteer orientation and taking a tour of the hospital. I was in awe of the facilities, professionalism, and expertise of the staff. After lots of paperwork and an interview, I started working as a gym runner in one of the Shepherd Center's Spinal Cord Injury Physical Therapy gyms. It has been eye-opening and humbling.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I work from 9 am - 12 pm. The physical and occupational therapists treat patients while I run around grabbing anything they need, cleaning work stations, sanitizing physical therapy equipment, and collecting personalized wheelchairs for the patients. While I am learning a huge amount about this specialized form of physical therapy, I have also learned so much about the psychological side of these traumatic injuries.

You would think that these patients, who are almost all paralyzed in some capacity, would be extremely negative and frustrated. But it's quite the opposite. Of course, as everyone does, they have their good and bad days but for the most part, they have a positive attitude and happy demeanor. They have each formed personal relationships with their therapists and easily converse about their daily lives.

Recently, I had the pleasure of witnessing a Shepherd Center graduation. The patient's family members flew in from out of town to be there for the transition of this inpatient to an outpatient facility. Tears were streaming down each of their faces as the longest, toughest period of the injury was ending and a new chapter was starting. You could see the pain on their faces that their loved one's injury had caused for all of them, not just the patient. But the support of great physical therapists, nurses, and other staff helped them maintain hope through the trauma.

I have learned so much from the SCI patients at Shepherd but I think the most important one is simple: sometimes the things you want most in life take the most time. Nothing worth having happens instantly, it takes time and hard work. I listened to a sermon at church recently that said that "we live in a microwave age." We want everything to happen right away and get frustrated when it takes a long time to see the hard work pay off. But the Shepherd Center patients have taught me how patience, hard work, and a positive attitude can make the biggest difference in the recovery process.

So far, I have loved my experience working at a rehabilitation hospital. Not only will this better prepare me for my career as a physical therapist but it will also help me become a more compassionate, and grateful person. The Shepherd staff are changing lives on a daily basis and I am proud to be able to do something to help, no matter how small that something might be.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Dear College Students, Are You Undecided?

Up until last week, I always had a major. I was an international business major, finance major, psych major on the pre-medicine track… and now (finally) I am exactly where I should have been when I started college: undecided. I think there is too much pressure as a high school student to have a designated path about what you want to study, be when you 'grow up' and essentially spend the rest of your life doing. As an 18-year-old, I really feel like I tried to pin myself down to a major so that I had a set path to follow and something to look towards. This is probably very conventional and I know tons of people at school who have their minds made up about what they want to study.

Keep Reading... Show less

Life Is Messy

Finding who you are in your 20s

Life Is Messy

I am 25 years old and just now learning who I am. When I separated from my husband I was terrified of what would follow. I did not know who I was outside of a relationship, nor did I know how to be on my own. It was scary, and I was so lost. I spent months discovering who I was, and what I wanted to be. I am still searching as I believe we never truly know who we are even when we "grow up". I came to the realization that I had been hiding a part of myself for my entire life. Coming out was not easy, growing up in the church made it scary, and hard. I was told growing up that being anything but straight was such a sin, and that i would spent my life in hell because of it. I came out to my parents when I was 25 years old. I picked up the phone and called my mom, and uttered the words "I'm queer" through tears. I knew my parents would be supportive, but that didn't make it any easier for me to vulnerable and raw. Since then, I have slowly started being more authentic in who I am, and not hide parts of me just because of people's shitty opinions.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments