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Spinal Cord Injury and the Family

Spinal Cord Injury and the Family

A New Guide

Michelle J. Alpert, M.D., Saul Wisnia

ISBN 9780674027152

Publication date: 05/30/2008

Spinal cord injury, or SCI, is frequently sudden and unexpected—through accident, disease, or violence, patients temporarily lose control of their bodies and, it seems, their lives. With rehabilitation, they can learn to navigate their world once more, retraining muscles and mind to compensate for paralyzed limbs and diminished strength. But as Dr. Michelle Alpert shows here, there is far more to recapturing full, independent lives than regaining movement. Central to long-term success is mending the family unit.

Combining Dr. Alpert’s clinical experience with patients’ own stories, Spinal Cord Injury and the Family is for individuals and their families who must climb back from injury: for the young quad couple, both quadriplegic, who wish to conceive and raise a child; for the paraplegic dad who wants to teach his daughter to drive; for the couple wondering how they can regain the sexual spark in their relationship.

The authors cover the causes of and prognosis for SCI through case studies, review common courses of rehabilitation, and answer the “what now?” questions—from daily routines to larger issues concerning sex, education and employment, childbearing, and parenting with SCI. Rich in clinical information and practical advice, the book shows how real patients and their families are living full lives after spinal cord injury.


  • In 2006, it was estimated that approximately 11,000 Americans sustained traumatic spinal-cord injuries (SCI) each year; that number is much higher now with injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Physiatrist Alpert has compiled a timely and basic guide for SCI patients and their families, covering a multitude of important issues from basic spine anatomy, how injuries occur, and the impact of the injury's location to the first days after an injury, the emotional turmoil of the patient and family, and adjusting to work or school. Relationship issues, including dating, sex, fertility and pregnancy, and parenting, are painted in reassuring terms. Children with spinal cord injuries garner a separate chapter, as do the medical complications and challenges of SCI. This excellent overview with an emphasis on the physical effects of SCI will be invaluable to a growing, currently underserved audience.

    —Janet M. Schneider, Library Journal (starred review)


  • Michelle J. Alpert, M.D., is Director of Rehabilitation Medicine at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and Clinical Instructor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. She was the founder and first director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • Saul Wisnia is Senior Publications Editor/Writer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the author of numerous books.

Book Details

  • 360 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Foreword by Cindy and Ted Purcell