Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002 Jan;83(1):24-30


Mothers with spinal cord injuries: Impact on marital, family, and children's adjustment.

Alexander CJ, Hwang K, Sipski ML.

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL (Alexander, Sipski); the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, FL (Alexander, Sipski); and the Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corp, West Orange, NJ (Hwang).

Alexander CJ, Hwang K, Sipski ML. Mothers with spinal cord injuries: impact on marital, family, and children's adjustment. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83:24-30. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate how mothers with spinal cord injury (SCI) adjust to parenting, their marriages, and their families, and how their children adjust to their mothers' disability. DESIGN: Randomized control study of mothers with SCI and their children, matched to able-bodied mothers and their children on key demographic variables. SETTING: Subjects were selected from 7 regional Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems from across the United States. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 310 volunteers (experimental: 88 mothers with SCI, 46 partners, 31 children; matched controls: 84 able-bodied mothers, 33 partners, 28 children). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Children's adjustment, gender role identity; self-esteem; children's attitude toward mother and father; dyadic and family adjustment; parenting stress; and satisfaction. RESULTS: No significant differences were found between mothers with SCI and able-bodied mothers. Moreover, there were no significant differences between children raised in families with mothers with SCI and children raised in families with able-bodied mothers. Also, no significant differences were found in dyadic or family functioning with mothers with SCI or able-bodied mothers. CONCLUSIONS: SCI in mothers does not appear to affect their children adversely in terms of individual adjustment, attitudes toward their parents, self-esteem, gender roles, and family functioning. Our results may challenge health care providers, social policy-makers, and the general public to end negative stereotyping of children, couples, and families with a disabled mother and wife. Copyright 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation