The impact of emotional support offered during rehabilitation on the long-term quality of life and satisfaction with living of individuals with spinal cord injury : an exploratory study of individuals re-employed in the South African National Defence Force

Parker, S. (2005-03)

Thesis (MScMedSc (Rehabilitation))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


Many South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers have suffered spinal cord injury either in the line of duty or otherwise. This injury affects all spheres of life (physical, emotional, social and psychological). Servicemen are often considered heroes of their country and are often the ones who need to set aside their emotions in order to fulfil their roles as soldiers. However, it is anticipated that a permanent impairment/disability e.g. SCI will have an impact on their quality of life (QOL) and satisfaction with living (SWL). This study aims to explore whether emotional support offered to soldiers with spinal cord injury (SCI) during rehabilitation improve their long-term QOL and SWL. Thirteen soldiers who have been re-employed post injury were asked to complete a selfcompiled, self-administered questionnaire regarding the emotional support offered during rehabilitation and the impact thereof on long-term QOL and SWL. The questionnaire focused on their ratings of the QOL and SWL in different areas of their lives and circumstances and asked what they would advise newly injured individuals regarding SCI and rehabilitation. Data was analysed using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Pearson’s chi-square test and the M-L chi-square tests were used to analyse the data with the Statistica programme. A p-value of < 0.05 were calculated as statistically significant. Emotional support during rehabilitation showed a significant impact on QOL (p=0.0497). Ninety-two percent (n=12) of participants rated their QOL as good or excellent while 77% (n=10) rated their SWL as good. Participants who were older than 26 reported a significantly higher rate of SWL than younger ones (p=0.0292). Furthermore, results showed that the family was the most constant source of support during rehabilitation (54%, n=7). Despite that, 77% (n=10) of participants felt that they received excellent emotional support from the rehabilitation team. The study results are intended to facilitate growth and development in the rehabilitation process and guide professionals in the offering of emotional support.

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