Autobiography and History of Medicine: three patients struck by SCI tell their life story

Gioia Gorla


A sudden spinal cord injury (SCI) causes a permanent serious disability, which breaks the psychophysical unity and deeply changes the lives of the patient and his family. The patient’s brain functioning remains unchanged, but his body’s functionality is irremediably compromised. Until the 1950s, SCI entailed death or a short life, fraught with terrible suffering. Nowadays most patient can not only survive, but also lead an active life, by means of a long and complex rehabilitation process.
The autobiographies of three Italian men, who were affected by such a dramatic catastrophe during their youth, respectively in 1967, 1992 and 2003, offer a significant historical testimony of the progress in the biopsychosocial rehabilitation of this kind of disability and bear witness to the moving way in which each one of them was able to cope with the tragedy that had broken his life.


autobiographic narratives; rehabilitation; spinal cord injury; spinal cord unity

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