Original Research

Experiences of spinal cord injury patients admitted to the rehabilitation unit at the national referral hospital in Khomas region, Namibia

Daniel O. Ashipala, Lettie Langendorf
African Journal of Disability | Vol 11 | a1018 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v11i0.1018 | © 2022 Daniel O. Ashipala, Lettie Langendorf | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 February 2022 | Published: 27 July 2022

About the author(s)

Daniel O. Ashipala, Department of General Nursing Science, School of Nursing and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Namibia, Rundu, Namibia
Lettie Langendorf, Department of General Nursing Science, School of Nursing and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Namibia, Rundu, Namibia


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Abstract

Abstract

Background: Spinal cord injury (SCI) remains one of the major causes of disability globally. It results in permanent physical disability secondary to devastating neurological defects. When a person sustains SCI, substantial changes and challenges in their lives occur, regardless of their age or socioeconomic status. In Namibia, the knowledge on SCI experiences could be used to improve the care rendered to patients with this injury.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of patients with SCIs admitted to the rehabilitation unit at the national referral hospital in Khomas region, Namibia.

Method: A qualitative, explorative and descriptive study design was used. Data were collected by means of in-depth, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with 15 participants from the rehabilitation unit. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Analysis of the data in this study identified three themes: negative experiences, positive experiences and measures to improve the lives of people living with SCI in the community. Participants experienced varied emotions from anger, stress, disbelief, frustration and sadness, which led to depression. In addition, participants experienced discrimination due to lack of community acceptance hence, improving awareness remains key.

Conclusion: This study provided insight into the lived experiences of those living with SCI as they narrated their struggle from the onset of SCI to their reintegration into the community. The study’s findings can be used to develop self-care strategies and ongoing interventions that focus on maintaining physical and psychological health for spinal-cord injured persons throughout the course of living with disability.


Keywords

spinal cord injury; rehabilitation; challenges; lived experiences; patients; re-integration.

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