The subjective experience of integrating paraplegia into one’s life
This phenomenological study aimed to explore the subjective experience of integrating paraplegia into the lives of individuals who have sustained injuries causing paraplegia. Semi-structured, in-depth individual interviews were conducted with six participants with paraplegia. The researcher utilised an availability sample by applying the snowball sampling method. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed using thematic content analysis. Initially a descriptive approach was followed and then an interpretive approach. The main themes that emerged, are: Outdoing adversity through posttraumatic growth; It is a unique life-long journey; It Takes Time; Initial Negative Appraisal; A Turning Point; Positive Reappraisal of Life; Positive Reappraisal of Self and a Positive Reappraisal of Relationships with Others. The findings suggest that all the participants have overcome adversity and have surpassed their lives prior to paraplegia by managing the challenges through personal and post-traumatic growth in the form of positive rumination, adjustment and active emotion- and problem-focused coping. The limitations of the study included the absence of in-depth investigation of sexual intimacy and bowel and bladder issues, and the need for the inclusion of uneducated and socio-economic deprived paraplegics. Future studies may focus on differentiation by means of education, age, socio-economic status and the cause of paraplegia, the integration of bowel and bladder regulation and sexual intimacy into the lives of the paraplegic individuals, their partners, caregivers and families.
- Health Sciences