Post-traumatic growth following spinal cord injury

Claire Z. Kalpakjian*, Cheryl B. McCullumsmith, Jesse R. Fann, John S. Richards, Brenda L. Stoelb, Allen W. Heinemann, Charles H. Bombardier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Context/objective: Examine the relationship of post-traumatic psychological growth (PTG), depression, and personal and injury characteristics in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Community. Participants: Eight hundred and twenty-four adults with SCI. Interventions: None. Outcome measures: Five items from the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory, reflecting positive change after injury in life priorities, closeness to others, new opportunities being available, stronger faith, and personal strength. Results: Initial structural equation model testing of a conceptual model of personal and injury characteristics, violent etiology, depression, and PTG resulted in a poor fit. Model modifications resulted in an improved fit, but explained only 5% of the variance in PTG. Being female, younger, having less formal education, and less time since injury had significant relationships with PTG, whereas depression, violent etiology, and injury level/severity did not. In each PTG domain, between 54 and 79% of the sample reported at least some positive change after injury. Conclusions: The results of this study, while promising, explained only a small portion of the variance in PTG. A majority of the sample experienced some positive change after injury, with the greatest change in discovering that they were stronger than they thought they were. Comparing means previously reported in a non-SCI sample of those who experienced trauma, positive change after injury was comparable for each PTG item except for new opportunities being available, which was significantly lower for those with SCI. Future directions of research include the development of theoretical models of PTG after SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-225
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Depression
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-traumatic growth following spinal cord injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this