Suffering a Spinal cord injury can be life-changing. However, it should not stop you reaching your future potential.
Find out more about the support available for finding you work, and guidance on making your workspace more accessible.
Spinal Cord injury and its Causes
The spinal cord begins at the brain stem and continues down the spine, making up a vital part of the central nervous system. When damage or injury to the spinal cord occurs as a result of trauma, it affects the brains capacity to send messages to areas of the body that control motor or sensory functions, usually below the level of injury.
Every year half a million people around the world suffer a spinal cord injury, with research showing nearly 40% of these caused by some form of a traffic collision. Its effects are often life-changing, with many injuries resulting in permanent or semi-permanent paralysis.
- Injury or damage to the spinal cord in your back will result in paraplegia. This will affect the movement and feeling in your legs and possibly some stomach muscles.
- Injury or damage to the spinal cord in your neck will result in tetraplegia, which affects movement and feeling in all four limbs, as well as chest and stomach muscles.
Spinal cord injury may cause significant disruption to plans and activities you had in the future. However, with increasing awareness and technological advances, many sufferers can still lead a rich and fulfilling life.
There are around 3.4 million disabled people in work today in the UK, although adults with spinal cord injury face a global unemployment rate of more than 60%. However, with often simple adjustments and the right support in the workplace, most people who have suffered a spinal cord injury can continue or return to work.
Your local Jobcentre Plus can provide one-to-one coaching that will support with finding a job to suit you and your needs, with an appropriate employer. They may also be able to help with funding for transport or equipment and support in becoming self-employed.
The government has set up initiatives to support disabled people getting into and stay in work. Access to Work scheme that can provide support with the cost of travel to and from the workplace where public transport is not an option, and help fund specialist equipment to help you continue in your role.
Some people return to their previous jobs, whilst others use the opportunity to retrain for a new profession and colleges, universities, and other education institutions are more inclusive and accessible than ever.
The evolution of online learning and an increase in the number of professional and vocational learning opportunities means it has never been easier to start a new qualification and unlock your future potential.
Guidance for Employers
There are over 7.7 million people of working age in the UK with a disability or a health condition. The main reason for unemployment is the lack of accessible workplaces, not the capacity of the disabled person. So, with minor adaptations that are covered financially by government funding, you can ensure your workplace is inclusive for everyone.
Many reasonable adjustments involve little or no cost and could include:
- Making alterations to premises, such as installing a wheelchair ramp
- Allowing the disabled employee to work somewhere else in the building, such as the ground floor
- Providing flexible working hours to disabled staff, or a phased return to work process
- Bringing in changes to the recruitment process to enable all candidates to have an equal chance at successfully securing a new job role
- Offering training opportunities for all employers to enhance their understanding of working with disabled colleagues
You can also sign up to the governments ‘disability confident’ campaign. By displaying a unique symbol on your website or job adverts, it helps customers and jobseekers see you are committed to promoting equality in the workplace and will recruit with integrity. It encourages employers to recruit and retain great people and access the broadest possible pool of talent, whilst improving morale by demonstrating you are treating all employees fairly.
If you are an employer and want more information, try looking at our tailored information based on the type of your company. Also, you could read about the benefits of hiring a disabled person, and find some local assistance to do so.
If you are a jobseeker, you could find out about the up-to-date grants and schemes available to you.