Life is like a kaleidoscope: it changes in unpredictable ways. How do you find something positive in new situations?

The story of Esther Schmid

On 22 May 2018, my life changed out of the blue with the diagnosis of Guillain Barré syndrome, an acute disease that affects neural pathways. Two days after admission to an acute hospital, my body was completely paralysed. I was then transferred to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, where I spent two months on the Intensive Care Unit learning how to breathe, swallow and speak again. But my body was still paralysed.

During the ten-month rehabilitation period, I trained hard and gradually fought my way back to independence. I switched from my electric wheelchair to a manual wheelchair and was eventually able to leave the clinic using a rollator. Since then I have continued to train with an iron will. Progress occurs in small steps.

“I survived and that's the most important thing.”
Esther Schmid, Guillain-Barré syndrome since 2018

Overview Beacons of Hope

Independence as a motivating factor

Physiotherapist Tobias Becker helps patients in the Swiss Paraplegic Centre to gradually achieve greater autonomy. The hope of achieving as much independence as possible is a major motivating factor for people with a spinal cord injury. The physiotherapist tells us how he experiences and supports motivation as a form of strength. 

We support people with spinal cord injuries. Throughout their lives.

  • Very few people are aware of the fact that a spinal cord injury means much more than being in a wheelchair. It results in momentous turning points in the life of people with a spinal cord injury. The loss of mobility, no longer being able to walk, maybe only having limited use of your arms are one aspect of it. The loss of bladder and bowel functions, sexual functions, sensory functions and other things are another.

  • Not only glancing into a kaleidoscope, but looking into it properly. Not only observing but being drawn into the interplay of mirrors, lights and colours. Not staring into a closed system, but being open to reflections of nature, the surroundings and other people.

    The word kaleidoscope comes from the Greek and means “to see beautiful shapes”. Kaleidoscopes have meditative and therapeutic potential. Observing the constantly changing images results in calm and stillness, stimulates imagination, and inspires self-reflection. Each picture is as unique and as fleeting as a snowflake. The smallest impact is all it takes to bring about a new composition and light, shape and colour.

  • More

    Despite the devastating blow of fate, many people with a spinal cord injury experience positive changes. Science calls this phenomenon “post-traumatic growth”. It can be illustrated using the metaphor of an earthquake. A debilitating event shakes the previous life of the person with a spinal cord injury like an earthquake. Life plans and convictions are shaken up. However, just as after an earthquake more stable houses are built that will withstand future tremors, people with a spinal cord injury regain solid ground under their feet and can even surpass themselves.

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