Psychological Effects On Youth With SCI & Their Caregivers.
By Karen Koehler
It is humbling to watch the total devotion many parents demonstrate towards their children with SCI. A family of two wage earners may give up one paying job so that one parent can instead provide around the clock caregiving. A family may reorganize itself to make sure that the injured child remains within the center of the support unit.
A recent study examined 203 youth with SCI. Their average age was 12.7 years. 70 percent had paraplegia. 78 percent of caregivers were mothers, 14 percent fathers and eight percent other family members. In all, 16 and 21 percent caregivers scored in the range of moderate tosevere anxiety and depression, respectively. Being female and having a child with mental health problems predicted caregiver anxiety and depression. In addition, having a child who was older at the time of injury predicted caregiver depression. Poor social relationships, having a caregiver with mental health problems and having a caregiver with less education predicted both child anxiety and depression.
The researchers concluded that caregiver sex, child age at injury and child mental health were related to caregiver outcomes; caregiver education, marital status and child age were not. Caregiver mental health and education and child social relationships predicted child outcomes. Neither injury level nor injury severity was related to caregiver or child outcomes.
This article was excerpted in part from E H Kelly, C J Anderson, S I Garma, H F Russell, S J Klaas, J A Gorzkowski and L C Vogel. “Relationships between the psychological characteristics of youth with spinal cord injury and their primary caregivers.” Spinal Cord, (6 July 2010).