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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

versión On-line ISSN 2310-3833
versión impresa ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.41 no.2 Pretoria  2011




A pilot study on sexuality in rehabilitation of the spinal cord injured: Exploring the woman's perspective



J RobinsonI, *; A ForrestII, *; C Pope-EllisIII, *; Angel T HargreavesIV

IB Occ Ther (UKZN). Occupational therapist in private practice, Durban
IIB Occ Ther (UKZN). Occupational therapist, Livingstone School, Durban
IIIB Occ Ther (UKZN). Junior occupational therapist, Edendale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg
IVB Occ Ther (UDW/UKZN), M.ECI (UP). Lecturer, School of Audiology, Occupational therapy and Speech language pathology, University of KwaZulu Natal





This qualitative study was aimed at gaining an understanding of spinal cord injured women's subjective views and perceptions regarding the inclusion of sexuality in their rehabilitation.
A focus group comprising four women with complete spinal cord injuries who had received their injury not less than 2 years previously and who had been through a rehabilitation programme in the past 5 years confirmed the significance of the dialectical relationship between sexuality and self esteem. Self esteem had a great impact on the participants' ability to resume their lives as sexual beings and their receptiveness to sexuality being addressed in rehabilitation. Further, the participants' ability to resume their lives as sexual beings was impacted on by personal, partners and societal attitudes. It was also equated with their ability to engage in the physical acts of sex. This supports the theoretical constructs of occupational science which recognises the relationship between doing, being and becoming.
One of the significant shortcomings of rehabilitation was the failure to provide individualised and client-centred intervention when including sexuality. Therapists need to adjust the time and manner in which sexuality is addressed and consider the use of peer counselling, group discussion and access to detailed information and resources.

Key words: Activities of Daily Living, Female, Rehabilitation, Sexuality, Spinal cord injury



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Angel Hargreaves



* This article is based on a research project conducted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the B. Occ Ther degree at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

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