The purpose of this study was to explore the psychosocial problems encountered by Black patients with tetralpegia once discharged from the hospital. Phenomenology as a research strategy was used with the aim of understanding the worldview of patients. The medical aspects of spinal cord injury were discussed, firstly with emphasis placed on the incidence of spinal cord injury, causes of spinal cord injury, different levels of tetraplegia and the management of patients with tetraplegia. The psychosocial problems encountered by black patients with tetralpegia once discharged from the hospital were discussed. The emphasis was placed on the patients’ emotional reaction to the injury, adjustment towards the injury and the guidelines for social work intervention with regard to the patient with tetraplegia. Ten respondents participated in the study after they were selected by using availability sampling and the study revealed the following. Tetraplegia results in a variety of psychosocial problems for both the patient and his/her family, which are: Negative marital relationships and desertion by the healthier spouse. Disturbed family relationships. Negative self-esteem and lack of self-confidence due to physical limitations. Poor quality of life, stigmatization by the community and inaccessibility in as far as public transport is concerned. Tetraplegia triggers psychological, social and financial problems. It is therefore concluded that social work intervention in the initial phase of the injury will ensure that the patients’ psychosocial problems are explored and attended to, to prepare the patients for the difficult life thereafter.
Dissertation (MA (SW) Health Care)--University of Pretoria, 2007.