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Traveling With a Spinal Cord Injury

Recovering from a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be long and tedious. There will be pain and discomfort, worry and frustration about the lack of mobility and fear about the long term recovery prospects. On top of that there are the side effects of the medication that may be prescribed and the physiotherapy that has to be done. All in all, recovering from SCI is not a good time in a person’s life. A positive attitude and finding ways to relieve the stress can relieve the tension and worry and even help to facilitate the recovery. One of the best ways to do this is to travel. That does not mean hopping on a plane and flying off to distant places. All you need to do is move out of the home to get away for a day or two. It is not as difficult as you may think.



Check with Your Doctor

Being spontaneous is fine when you are well, but with an SCI, you need to be sure of what you can and cannot do. The first step is to consult your doctor and get clearance to travel. Tell him about how you are feeling, physically and mentally, and why you want a break. Give full details about your travel plans. If you get the go ahead to travel, follow all the instruction you receive to the letter, including the means of travel. If you are told not to travel, there is nothing that can be done about it – you don’t want to slow down your recovery or cause complications. Do not presume to know more than the doctor.

Find the Right Destination

Make a list of possible destinations and then check to see if the facilities in each place are what you need. Choose the destination that best fits your needs. These include:

 ·         Wheelchair accessibility

 ·         Disabled friendly bathrooms 

 ·         Whether any special foods that you may need are available

 ·         Activities that you will be able to participate in.

 ·         Anything else your doctor may have advised.

 ·         Things you want and can do. Remember that this is a getaway for you and not a temporary change to another care facility. Within the bounds of your medical limitations, looks for activities that will be a change from the regular routine and which you enjoy doing.


Plan for Contingencies

Check to see if the place you are visiting has:

  ·         A hospital you can go to in an emergency.

  ·         Medicines available nearby.

  ·         A wheelchair repair facility in the area.

  ·         Anything else that you can think of that you have needed as part of your recovery.

  ·         Any special services that you doctor had advised should be available if you need them.


The Right Transportation Is Critical

The right vehicle is essential to a safe and comfortable trip. Car travel may not only be uncomfortable, it may be dangerous. The best option is to use a Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Service (NEMT). This service will have special vehicles that are both safe and comfortable to travel in and drivers who are specially trained in transporting people with health and mobility issues.

With the right planning, a few days away from home can be a rejuvenating experience that will help in working through your recovery.

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