Title : Lived experiences of people living with paraplegia in selected panchayats in Ernakulum district
Spinal cord damage below Thoracic 1 (T1) level is termed paraplegia and this may affect functions of lower limbs, trunk and pelvic organs, and may cause impairment of bowel, bladder function and brings sudden and profound life changes. The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of people living with paraplegia in selected panchayats in Ernakulam district.
Methodology: A purposive sampling technique was used to recruit participants, using Kizhakkambalam and Edathala panchayat as an outlet for the recruitment of sample. Ten persons living with paraplegia were selected. The interview focused on obtaining a description of participants experience after being paraplegic. Audio taped interviews were transcribed into significant statements and analyzed using Colaizzi’s phenomenological method. The data collected was analyzed concurrently with data collection, using thematic content analysis.
Results: The four main themes that emerged from the data during analysis were:
1. Miserable life with a cluster of themes such as initial hardships and hospitalization, elimination agonies, emotional concerns and financial crisis.
2. Aftermath of Paraplegia with a cluster of themes as impaired sensation and strength, world of pressure sore, infection and falls, wheel chair bound life and reluctant to go out and weight gain.
3. Social impact and Expectations with cluster of themes like society’s attitude, wheel chair friendly environment, welfare policies and plans and the last theme.
4. Moving towards resilience with a cluster of themes such as supporting hands and beliefs, scheduled routines, nurturing fitness and rehabilitation.
Conclusion: The study explored the lived experiences of persons with paraplegia. While there are commonalities in the lived experiences of persons with paraplegia, it is important that we do not lose sight of the individual uniqueness and dynamic lived experiences of each patient. More over the results of this study provided basis for implications in nursing practice, education, administration and research.
Key words: Lived experiences; Paraplegia; Colaizzi’s phenomenology.