Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 197–205 | Cite as

Adjustment to Changes in Sexual Functioning Following Spinal Cord Injury: The Contribution of Men’s Adherence to Scripts for Sexual Potency

  • Shaun Michael Burns
  • James R. Mahalik
  • Sigmund Hough
  • Ashley N. Greenwell
Original Paper


Recent epidemiological statistics suggest approximately 250,000 people in the United States live with a spinal cord injury. Men constitute roughly 82% of these individuals. Following spinal cord injury, men frequently experience significant changes in their sexual functioning. As a result, men with spinal cord injuries are at an increased risk for experiencing adjustment difficulties. Unfortunately, relatively little is known about factors that promote or impede men’s adjustment to these changes. In the present article, the authors highlight how men’s adherence to gender scripts for sexual potency may contribute to their adjustment following a spinal cord injury. To organize the discussion, the authors review related literature and, through case examples, illustrate how men’s adherence to this gender norm may influence their post-injury mental health. Directions for gender-sensitive interventions and future clinical research are provided.


Adjustment Gender scripts Masculinity Spinal cord injury Sexual functioning Treatment interventions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaun Michael Burns
    • 1
  • James R. Mahalik
    • 2
  • Sigmund Hough
    • 1
  • Ashley N. Greenwell
    • 1
  1. 1.VA Boston Healthcare System, Spinal Cord Injury ServiceHarvard Medical School/Boston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational PsychologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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