I stepped into the shoes of someone with spinal injury to truly understand their struggles | Bolt Burdon Kemp I stepped into the shoes of someone with spinal injury to truly understand their struggles | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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I stepped into the shoes of someone with spinal injury to truly understand their struggles

It can be difficult to understand what it’s like living with a spinal cord injury day to day and many things can be taken for granted.

And although at BBK we work with people with spinal injuries every day, we are always wanting to learn more about their struggles so we know how to best support them.

BBK’s Spinal Injuries Team had the privilege of participating in Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research’s first Character-Building Workshop, giving us an invaluable opportunity to delve into the intricate challenges faced by individuals with spinal injuries.

The workshop, targeted at various organisations and professional who so they can better understand what someone with spinal injury might need, was a blend of insightful scenarios and practical considerations that shed light on the multifaceted nature of life after a spinal injury.

As someone in the early stages of my legal career, especially focusing on catastrophic injury claims, and specifically spinal injuries, I found the session particularly enlightening.

The workshop has been designed and is led by Ralph Charlwood, SMSR’s ambassador with lived experience of a spinal cord injury.

Ralph was great at introducing the workshop to us and guiding us through the various scenarios and considerations.

We explored various real-life situations, emphasising the day-to-day challenges faced by individuals with spinal injuries. From considerations of arrangements that must be made when going on holiday to the broad spectrum of issues, including wheelchair accessibility, suitable leisure activities, and dietary requirements — each detail plays a role in ensuring a positive experience.

One key takeaway was the recognition that the impact of spinal injuries extends beyond the physical aspects.

The level and nature of the injury are only some of the important elements in a complex equation. Factors such as a supportive network, access to specialist rehabilitation, and personal and professional circumstances before the injury significantly influence the post-injury journey.

The session prompted a deep reflection on the importance of compensation claims in shaping outcomes.

Compensation can not only help fund extensive rehabilitation needs but also ensures there is a professional support network delivering care needs and allowing the loved ones to focus on providing emotional support and retaining their roles as partners rather than carers, contributing to both short and long-term improvements.

In the workshop, we were introduced to fictional characters with diverse backgrounds and different levels of spinal cord injuries. Regardless of one’s professional standing, the experience has encouraged us to take a fresh perspective, challenge any preconceptions and importantly foster constructive discussions within the group.

SMSR’s aim is to promote the quality of life for those living with spinal cord injuries through research. Their vision is to enable people with spinal cord injuries to have as fulfilling a life after paralysis as possible.

The workshop is now being rolled out to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and we felt very privileged to be the first ones to be offered this amazing opportunity.

I highly recommend this new initiative and would encourage everyone, regardless of their role or experience level, to consider participating and gaining a deeper understanding of spinal cord injuries from a holistic standpoint.

It was not only an information-packed session but importantly a truly immersive journey into the lives of those with spinal injuries.

It has enhanced my comprehension of the challenges faced by our clients, allowing me to step into their shoes and approach my work with a deepened understanding of what they may be going through and their needs.

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