This study was conducted to gain an understanding of the family life stories of 12 individuals (9 men and 3 women) who have experienced the transition home after a severe spinal cord injury (SCI) and their perspectives of the role that a community-based therapeutic recreation program (P.A.T.H.) played in that transition. The study utilized a qualitative framework comprised of in-depth interviews and case study field notes, with the data analyzed through a three stage process proposed by Taylor and Bogdan (1984). Although the spousal/life partner relationship was the relationship most impacted by an individual’s injury, the resulting influence of the injury on relationships varied. This study found that spousal/life partner relationships improved or deteriorated while no relationships were described as “status quo.” Relationships with children often improved for a number of reasons—more time invested, more care-giving responsibility, and/or greater appreciation of the importance of the relationship. This greater focus upon child-care also provided participants with tangible benefits such as an enhanced sense of purpose and self-worth, attention away from self to another, and a strong motivation for recovery. Although P.A.T.H. recognized that a therapeutic recreation program could not directly resolve difficult family situations, some of which are often accentuated by the impact of a SCI, there were clear instances where the program helped individuals attain an increased degree of independence, enhanced coping strategies, and lessened social isolation—all qualities of benefit to the family.
Author Jason Bocarro, Janet Sable
Volume Vol 37, No 1 (2003)