University of Southern California Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Ken got a spinal cord injury when he was 19 years old. He had come to the United States from Cuba. His mother wanted him to make a good life for himself, but he became involved in gangs. He was injured in a gang shooting. However, a caring doctor and a pair of pastors inspired Ken to become a Christian. They asked him to become a pastor himself. Ken accepted, but he gave so much time to his new work that he didn't pay enough attention to pressure reliefs. Ken got pressure ulcers (which is what a doctor or nurse calls pressure sores or bedsores).

Read more about Ken in these articles...

Ken got shot. He got a spinal cord injury at C-4 (the fourth cervical vertebra, which is in the neck). In the hospital, he felt depressed. He lost his belief in himself.

Ken said he felt like he couldn't do anything in life. Experts say this feeling can make people stop taking care of themselves.

Things got better for Ken. His mother and friends gave him hope. Youth pastors gave him hope. A young doctor gave Ken a cross and prayed with him. Ken started to believe in himself again. He decided to do things that were important to him. He became a Christian. He got a job as a counselor at the school run by his church. Ken changed his attitude!

→ read more in Feelings, Attitude and Believing in Yourself

Ken got his spinal cord injury when he was 19. It was a long time ago. Now Ken has a sense of his body, too.

→ read more in Listening to Your Body

Ken had support from his friends and family. He had friends with spinal cord injuries, friends without spinal cord injuries, his doctor, "phone pals," his pastor, other people from his church, and his mother and sisters to cheer him up when he felt bad. They inspired Ken to have a good attitude. They inspired him to take care of himself.

→ read more in Depression

The wrong cushion can hurt you. Ken got a new cushion. He and his mother tried to cut a hole in it. They thought they were doing it the right way. They didn't ask Ken's doctor for help. It turned out it was not the right way to change Ken's cushion. Ken got a pressure ulcer.

→ read more in Wheelchairs and Other Equipment and Taking Pressure Off Your Skin

Ken worked as a school counselor. He got a red spot on his bottom. He wanted to keep working to the end of the school year. Ken got a bad pressure ulcer.

→ read more in What Causes Pressure Ulcers: Pressure and Sliding

Ken's mother was his caregiver. He felt a lot of stress when she left town. He got a pressure ulcer. Part of the reason was stress.

Ken felt depressed when he was in the hospital. He changed his attitude. He got a good attitude. Ken started helping out at his church. He felt better. He lowered his stress.

→ read more in Stress

Ken's mother took care of him. She had to leave town for a while. Ken had to find a new helper. It was hard to find someone who could do a good job. Ken got sick before he could hire a helper. Ken got urinary tract infections (UTIs). He also got a pressure ulcer.

Ken could have made a "Plan B" when his mother was going out of town. Ken could have asked his mother to help him find a new helper before she left town. She could have helped teach another member of the family or a friend to help Ken when she is away. Together, Ken and his mother could have made a list of people who might help Ken. They could update this list from time to time. Any of these choices could be Ken's "Plan B."

→ read more in Things You Don't Expect

Old injuries or surgeries can leave a scar. Scars are not healthy skin. A new pressure ulcer can start on an old scar. Helen, Ken and Tom all got new pressure ulcers on old scars.

→ read more in Skin Getting Older and Things You Can't Control

Ken had a helper who took drugs, stole from him and quit with no notice.

→ read more in "The Blame Game"

Ken had a helper who said he was Christian. The man lied to Ken. The man smoked crack in Ken's house. The man stole from Ken. The man quit all of a sudden.

→ read more in Caregivers and Helpers

Ken has helpers, but he says his mother is even better than his helpers at finding small pressure ulcers.

People with spinal cord injuries who have good friends feel much happier about their lives. They are less likely to feel depressed. An example is Ken. His friends from church, his mother, his doctor and his "phone pals" all helped inspire him. Their friendship and love helped Ken have a good attitude and take care of himself.

→ read more in Friends and Family

Some people might not like seeing you dating or married. Ken's mother helped take care of him. She didn't think it was right for him to have a girlfriend. This made him very sad. Ken didn't want to make his mother upset. He decided it was best to hide his phone calls to his girlfriend.

→ read more in Dating and Marriage

Ken and Odel take classes.

Dave, Judy and Ken work at office jobs.

→ read more in Don't Overdo It

Ken made new friends at his church. He even got a job he liked through his church.

→ read more in Faith

Your body might "tell" you it wants to take pressure off! Helen says she gets a sense of when to move. Ken gets a sense of when to move.

→ read more in Taking Pressure Off Your Skin and Things to Do to Take Care of Your Skin

Helen, Ken and Odel said they listened to their bodies. They said they could tell when it was time to take pressure off their skin.

→ read more in Now I Get It!