Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Brad Rosenfield, PsyD, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

Third Advisor

Nancy Rosenberg, PsyD


Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a sudden, dramatic insult to the central nervous system that results in instant loss of sensory and/or motor function. In addition to physiological changes, survivors also endure both cognitive and emotional changes that increase susceptibility to depression, anxiety, and suicidality, all of which have been associated with cognitive distortions. This study sought to investigate the influence of cognitive distortions in relation to the ability to adapt to disability and establish a high quality of life among spinal cord injury survivors. Participants were 116 men and women living with spinal cord injury recruited via the Internet through various SCI websites and discussion forums and current patients at a respected rehabilitation facility in a northeastern state. Results indicate a negative relationship between the frequency of cognitive distortions and adjustment following SCI. Individuals who reported a higher frequency of cognitive distortions also endorsed depression or a loss of pleasure or interest. SCI survivors who scored higher on the quality of life measure tended to report being married or living with a significant other, reported better health, and reported a lower frequency of cognitive distortions. It is hoped that the results of this study will be useful in developing treatment protocols, improving rehabilitation effectiveness, and enhancing the lives of SCI survivors.