Psychospirituality and Pediatric Rehabilitation
Journal article by Barry Nierenberg, Alissa Sheldon; The Journal of Rehabilitation, Vol. 67, 2001
Journal Article Excerpt
Psychospirituality and Pediatric Rehabilitation.
by Barry Nierenberg , Alissa Sheldon
Often we are called on to stand with parents at the bedside of their critically ill child, in our role as psychologists working with medically ill children. We have often seen these parents take comfort as well as blame and guilt from their religious and spiritual beliefs. We’ve also seen children and adolescents use it in ways that both facilitate and hinder their future development.
For example, recently, a 16 year old boy came to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit at our hospital after surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury following a gang related shooting. Prior to his injury, he was heavily involved in his gang, had frequent brushes with the police, and had not attended school in some time. Recovery following his shooting was slow and when he regained the ability to communicate, he told almost everyone who would listen that while he was in a coma, he saw the Lord come to him along with his dead brother. They told him he would not die and would get better in order to “have a second chance at life, to not mess up this time”. The patient swore he would not go back to “my old ways” and, at his insistence, went to church during his weekend passes home and avoided contact with his old friends. After discharge, he continued on this path and directly attributed “turning my life around” to his religious experience. During his stay in the Rehabilitation hospital, staff used his religious approach to help encourage participation in required therapies.
This leads us to the question of just how do children use spirituality as a way of coping with chronic illness? In recent years this has begun to be studied with adults (especially senior cit…
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