Faith. It’s that quiet inner voice that speaks to you on the good days and especially on the bad. Sometimes it’s the one thing that can calm you when nothing else will, and for some, it’s the difference between being able to move on or carry on, or not.
Spirituality is just one resource that people use to cope with a major life event or trauma, like a spinal cord injury or a progressive illness. Clinical studies have shown that people with stronger spiritual beliefs tend to be happier and less depressed after a spinal injury. That’s important, because unfortunately people who have gone through a traumatic injury like SCI are also more likely to experience depression.
According to the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), current research shows that up to 25 percent of people with SCI experience depression, and up to 12 percent report major clinical depression.
In a recent study funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, researchers looked at how spirituality, having the sense of life meaning and inner peace, and having faith in God or a higher power, relate to happiness and quality of life in people with SCI.
Researchers at four SCI Model System Centers in Illinois, Michigan, and Washington surveyed 210 adults with SCI who were being considered for an antidepressant drug trial to help address their depression. The researchers in that medical study found that people with spinal cord injury who have:
• a sense of meaning or peace and
• faith in a higher power
reported having a higher quality of life and lower rates of depression.
In this study, spirituality was not limited to one religious tradition, and the findings
showed that even those individuals who are not religious can still benefit from a focus on having a meaningful life and inner peace.
The study authors also continually emphasized the importance of spirituality during rehabilitation for people with SCI. A focus on spirituality, especially life meaning and peace, may be one way to help people come to accept a disability and make positive adaptations to it.
Please know that we believe your level of spirituality is an individual decision that is yours to make.
Go to www.wheel-life.org/exploring-faith-on-wheels or click on the article on our Facebook page to read personal stories on faith from individuals with a spinal cord injury.