Kessler Foundation recently hosted a 2-day conference focused on issues related to sexuality and relationships after spinal cord injury.

Held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, NJ, on June 21 and 22, 2019, a one-day conference for people with spinal cord injury and their loved ones was followed by a half-day workshop for spinal cord injury professionals.

Jeanne Zanca, PhD, MPT, senior research scientist at the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research at Kessler Foundation, chaired the event, which was hosted by the federally funded Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System, a collaborative project of Kessler Foundation and Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ, and University Hospital in Newark, NJ.

“Spinal cord injury affects sexual functioning, often raising concerns about relationships, having children, and participating fully in family and community life,” Zanca explains in a media release from Kessler Foundation.

“Education plays a vital role in helping people with spinal cord injury nurture existing relationships and cultivate new ones,” she adds. “Through this conference, we aim to improve professional support in this area and provide people with spinal cord injury and their loved ones with the knowledge and skills needed to strengthen personal connections and manage the inevitable challenges that arise while adapting to life after spinal cord injury.”

Conference topics included sexuality and intimacy, dating and relationships, family life, caregiving, and other issues relevant to cultivating healthy and fulfilling relationships. The program featured panel discussions by individuals and their loved ones, and presentations by experts in sexuality, counseling, occupational therapy, and caregiving. Listen to podcasts from the conference.

Keynote speaker, Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator and Counselor, shared how to regain a satisfying intimate life after SCI through trust, safety, connectedness, creativity, adaptability, and humor in ”Stop, Focus, and Connect: An Introduction to the Formula for Creating or Strengthening Intimate Relationships.”

Lauren A. Varriale, MS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist with Northwell Health Rehabilitation Network, gave practical advice on ways to achieve safe and satisfying sex in her talk, “Enabling Sexuality: Positioning and Assistive Technology.”

Carol Gill, MD, MSCS, VHA-CM, and Joyce Williams, LCSW, MSCS, from the VA New Jersey Healthcare System, provided their perspective on strategies for preserving healthy relationships during “Love and Caregiving,” with an emphasis on the challenges that arise when a partner also has caregiving responsibilities.

Panelists shared their own experiences with adapting to relationships after spinal cord injury in a discussion moderated by Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, director of the Center for Spinal Cord Research at Kessler Foundation, “Dating and Long-term Relationships after Spinal Cord Injury.”

Having children and parenting was the focus of the panel on “Family Life: A Panel Discussion,” moderated by Scott Chesney, motivational speaker.

Former patients at Kessler Institute talked about seeking information during their rehabilitation, and the lessons they learned about sexuality in, “Our Perspective: Panel Discussion with People with SCI and their Partners.”

Participating in the conference’s resource fair were the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Kessler Foundation, Hollister, Inc., Bayada Home Health Care, and ABC Medical, the release continues.

Featured resources included Fact Sheets from the SCI Model System in English and Spanish, and the Clinical Practice Guideline: Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury.

These events were supported in part by Grant #842 from the Paralyzed Veterans of America Education Foundation. Additional support was provided by Kessler Foundation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), United Spinal Association, Hollister Inc, Bayada Home Health Care, and ABC Medical. The Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System is supported by NIDILRR (grant #90S15026).

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, PRWeb]