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Books, Journals, New Media
January 26, 2005

Spinal Cord Injury

JAMA. 2005;293(4):497-502. doi:10.1001/jama.293.4.497-a

People with disabilities occupy an important and ever-growing segment of the health care continuum. In Still Lives: Narratives of Spinal Cord Injury, Jonathan Cole takes a compassionate and probing look at a unique subset of this important population: persons with spinal cord injury. Still Lives provides an unabashed and candid account of the complex medical, psychological, and social environment often faced by persons with spinal cord injuries.

“I have gone to people, not with a white coat or a stethoscope . . . but to listen to their lives as they express them,” eloquently declares the author in the opening chapter. In the pages and chapters that follow, Cole powerfully portrays life as truly seen through the eyes of a person with a spinal cord injury. In doing so, he strives to fathom the intricacies of “spinal cord injury personhood” by answering a number of fundamental questions, including, how does it feel to lose one’s sex life? what is it like to experience social and architectural isolation? how is life different in a wheelchair? and what does it mean to have to catheterize every 4 hours?