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Biographical disruption and the experience of loss following a spinal cord injury: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Dickson, Adele; Allan, Derek; O'Carroll, Ronan


Adele Dickson

Derek Allan

Ronan O'Carroll


Individual in-depth interviews with eight people who had experienced a total spinal cord injury were conducted, focussing on the experience of living with a spinal cord injury. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and were analysed for recurrent themes using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Here we present three inter-related recurrent themes: 'Loss of control'; 'Loss of independence' and 'Loss of identity'. Participants reported an ongoing sense of loss, characterised largely by a diminishing sense of personal control. This loss of personal control manifested itself in incontinence, emotion and loss of movement. Helplessness and embarrassment were common responses. A loss of independence was associated with incontinence but also with a loss of spontaneity. A loss of identity ensued and participants reported feeling 'invisible'. The findings are discussed in relation to both extant spinal cord literature and chronic health literature. Recommendations for future research are suggested.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2008-05
Deposit Date Apr 4, 2008
Print ISSN 0887-0446
Electronic ISSN 1476-8321
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 407-425
Keywords Spinal cord injury; loss; identity; incontinence; helplessness;
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