Purpose: The purpose was to explore the experiences and needs of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) who can walk. Method: Thematic analysis was undertaken on the transcripts of semistructured interviews with 12 individuals who could walk following SCI. Results: Experiences shared across the group were related to walking in hospital and community settings, fatigue, frustration and invisible impairments. A need was identified for psychological support whilst in hospital and beyond. Professional and peer support following discharge from hospital were needed to assist with adjusting to their injury. Differences were noted between the experiences and needs of persons who had sustained their injury through a traumatic cause and persons who had sustained their injury through nontraumatic cause and the rehabilitation environment in which participants were hospitalized. Conclusion: The lived experiences of the general cohort in this small-scale study suggest that innovative strategies/programs be developed to address the needs of walkers within inpatient settings and following their discharge into the community. Programs should include self-help mental health strategies. Programs are required to better inform health professionals of the needs of this subset of the spinal cord injured population. Attention should be drawn particularly towards the needs of persons who had sustained their injury through nontraumatic cause. Implications for Rehabilitation Persons who walk following spinal cord injury, especially those who sustain a nontraumatic injury, need special consideration and interventions to address their needs. Peer support of walkers by walkers should be actively facilitated. Rehabilitation following both traumatic and nontraumatic spinal cord injuries is enhanced by access to spinal specific expertise. Consideration should be given to the development of national standards for the rehabilitation of persons with a spinal cord injury.
- Incomplete spinal cord injury
- Qualitative research