Balancing hope and expectation when living with spinal injury

Balancing hope and expectation when living with spinal injury

A manager at high street fashion chain, Coast, is suing her employer for a spinal injury claim of more than £1m, claiming she suffered “crippling injuries” after picking up an earring.


Safaa Pate was running Coast’s clothes and accessories concession at the House of Fraser department store in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, when she bent down to retrieve the earring, which had fallen under a display unit. Ms Pate said that she suffered “irreparable” back injuries which left her in “unbearable” pain, and claims her career and health have been destroyed because her employer broke health and safety rules.


She has had to undergo a spinal fusion operation for her injuries and now has no feeling in her left leg and foot, and has been unable to work since the incident. However, Coast Fashions insists that Ms Pate was the “author of her own misfortune” because she “should have used a stick” to retrieve the earring, which had fallen under a display unit she moved out of the way.

The case is expected to come to trial in November.


Whatever the outcome of this particular case, it is important that those who have suffered spinal injury through no fault of their own investigate their options for spinal injury compensation. A report published by The Guardian also stresses the need for those affected to develop ‘the skills and perspective’ to get on with their lives and the dangers inherent in misleading stories of individuals overcoming the odds after spinal injuries: It claims that reports of paralysed animals walking again can give unrealistic hopes to victims of back injury.


The report describes the tightrope of ‘balancing hope and expectation’ – with back injuries being some of the most debilitating that anyone can suffer. Head of clinical psychology at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Professor Paul Kennedy, argues: “When people have a new spinal cord injury, they’re trying to find out what the situation will mean to them … This work implies an assumption of acceptance of the reality of what’s happened.”


There are more than 1m nerve fibres in the spinal cord; what may at first appear to be a similar injury can produce a dramatically different outcome in another individual. And stories about defying the odds can have a negative impact on the process of rehabilitation, says Kennedy. Yet whatever the outcome of attempts at rehabilitation, it is important to investigate the grounds for a spinal injury claim if you or your loved ones have suffered ongoing debilitation through no fault of your own.


Photo: Michael Dorausch

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