East Hanover, NJ – A two-day conference held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, NJ on June 21 and 22, 2019, focused on issues related to sexuality and relationships after spinal cord injury. 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,” explained Dr. Zanca. “Education plays a vital role in helping people with spinal cord injury nurture existing relationships and cultivate new ones,” she added. “Through this conference, we aim to improve professional support in this area,” she explained, “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, counselling, occupational therapy, and caregiving.