The USA has come on leaps and bounds over the past three decades in terms of helping disabled people, but independence remains difficult to obtain. Statistics compiled by the CDC indicate that 6.8% of people living with a disability have at least one independent living disability that makes their day-to-day life dependent on those around them. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it goes without saying that most people like to be as independent as they can. Today, more than ever, there are ways to achieve a greater level of independence.
The majority of people living with disability require some form of physical or mental therapy to help mitigate their symptoms and improve their living situation. In recent years, therapy has become a more targeted and valuable exercise; an influential 2011 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy helped to create this situation, promoting the use of diverse therapies to help people living with disability, finding that trying to aid, rather than ‘cure’ a condition, was beneficial. A good example of this concerns cerebral palsy, where aquatic therapy can kill three birds with one stone. It is a great form of physical therapy, it stimulates cognitive development, and it’s often enjoyable. Brought together, this helps to benefit independence – with particular benefits stemming from the psychological side.
Mental Resilience and Independence
For many people living with disability it can be demoralizing to not have a sense of independence and to feel left-out in day-to-day life. Conversely, a sense of empowerment is linked to being absolutely aware of personal constraints and operating to your maximum capability within that. This is the view of a study published by JARID, which established that high rates of mental resilience and psychological stability were symbiotically linked with autonomy, self-help and self-acceptance. Building mental resilience seems crucial, then; but how?
A Community Approach
The key lies in a community approach to action even if that community isn’t physically based. The Mayo Clinic recommend that those living with disability and hoping to step up their level of independence focus on strong interpersonal networks and self-care as a priority. This helps people living with disability to manage the worst periods they go through, and also provides a safety net when things do go wrong.
Bringing these principles together creates a solid foundation for people living with disability to find greater levels of independence. Technology helps, of course, but the key is in maintaining strong support networks. Having that will help to build mental resilience and generate the confidence needed to progress.