Experiences of Individuals Living with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) and Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI) during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Article by Spinal Cord Injury & Acquired Brain Injury Researchers
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people living with acquired neurological conditions. Due to pandemic-related societal restrictions, changes in accessibility to medical care, equipment, and activities of daily living may affect the mental health of individuals with a SCI or ABI. This study aimed to understand the impact of the pandemic on psychological wellbeing, physical health, quality of life, and delivery of care in persons living with SCI and ABI. A secondary objective included exploring the use of virtual services designed to meet these challenges. In a companion study, participants were surveyed using validated scales of psychosocial health, physical health and healthcare access. In this study, 11 individuals gathered from the survey participated in virtual individual semi-structured interviews to provide accounts of lived experiences regarding critical health challenges and eHealth. Two researchers independently coded interviews for themes using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Through analysis of interviews, 5 themes were identified regarding COVID-19 and recovery, access to care, virtual healthcare, systemic barriers, and coping. Overall, limited opportunities due to the pandemic led to a need for adaptation and multifaceted outcomes on one’s wellbeing, which provides guidance for future clinical practice.