Far-reaching experiences also have potential. How do you find your skills?
The story of Gerold Solèr
“It was 10 am when I crashed down the hill with my tractor. The vehicle turned over on its own axis six times. I was lying there for three long hours. I could no longer move my body, but my thoughts were racing. My biggest hope was simply that I wouldn't die.
My father found me and I was transferred to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in Nottwil that same day. It was only a few days later that I realised that I’d never be able to walk again. However, my stubborn streak meant that I was able to achieve goals that everyone said were impossible given the level of my spinal cord injury. Today, as somebody with a high level of tetraplegia, I can eat independently, have a new and fulfilling job despite a lot of opposition, and I’ve discovered travelling and painting.”
Social and professional reintegration forms an important goal in rehabilitation. In this process, the responsible specialist areas at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre work together closely. Stefan Staubli of ParaWork, Cordula Ruf of the Social Advice team and Marianne Boller of the Psychological Services talk about their day-to-day work and about how it feels when new potential can be developed.
The story of Roman Späni
“Although our holiday on Cape Verde was meant to leave us with nothing but positive memories, things didn't turn out that way... I wanted to show my two boys how to dive through the waves. Diving into the sea changed my life: I dove through the wave and landed headfirst in the sand bar. Crack! My legs wouldn't move anymore and I was panicking that I was going to drown. Almost fourteen hours later I was back in Switzerland.
I spent nine months in the Swiss Paraplegic Centre where I had to learn to do everything again: swallowing, eating, drinking. Thankfully, I've always been an ambitious fighter and I keep looking forwards. My motto is: you’ve got to make the best of it, there's no point moping around. It’s just as important to accept help.”
Cogs represent productivity
To once again be an active and valuable part of society – for many people integration into the work process symbolises a life worth living and a genuine sense of self-worth.
The cogs are a symbol of productivity and working together: thanks to the involvement of specialists, you learn to recognise your own shape with its individual “edges and corners” that are particularly useful in life. The teeth allow the individual cogs to interlock and drive the mechanism. Nonetheless, you only experience your potential by taking action. Bring your talent to the fore and get the process started...
About the metal sculpture: Cogs is a work by metal artist Joe Meyer. His artistic implementation was inspired by the following thought:
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.
The consequences of a spinal cord injury are extremely far-reaching: they affect a person not only at a physical level, but also in terms of the social , reintegration and psychological aspects of his or her very existence. The person is injured in his or her entirety, and many things that were previously considered to be meaningful and emotionally stabilising are suddenly called into question or destroyed.
This is why the specialist areas ParaWork (professional integration ), Social Advice and Psychological Services work together with people with a spinal cord injury to achieve successful reintegration at all levels. During the intensive rehabilitation process,
the focus is on potential.
The prospect of professional reintegration is an important part of rehabilitation. Occupational and career guidance starts during rehabilitation in order to enable people with a spinal cord injury to experience the hope and confidence they require to rebuild their life. Even once the rehabilitation process is complete, people with a spinal cord injury continue to receive care and support relating to professional issues.
95% of patients have specific professional future prospects after they have completed the rehabilitation phase and are aware of the next steps they need to take.
Professional (re)integration is achieved for more than 60% of adults, irrespective of the level of their paralysis. This figure is unique in the world.
Thanks to ParaWork, young people achieve almost 100% of their goals, such as continuation of their education, completion of final exams, transfer to further education (e.g. high school), and apprenticeship examinations.