Finding ways to adapt to a life with limited mobility following a spinal cord injury can be incredibly difficult and many individuals who face this situation may feel increasingly demoralize as they learn to make adjustments in their everyday life routines.
There are however, many patterns of behavior that patients can adopt that can help them to live a healthy life following a spinal cord injury. These 5 key principles can lead to better physical and mental health, as well as helping to inspire positive in the individual:
Eating a High Fiber Diet
Individuals with spinal cord injuries often have difficulties with regulating their bowels. Following a healthy diet that is high in fiber can help with this issue. Fiber adds bulk to your stool, allowing it to pass more quickly through the intestines, helping to regulate bowel movements. Medical professionals recommend an intake of 30g of fiber a day, however for some individuals, an initial amount of 20g should be consumed before an assessment is made, as switching to a high fiber diet can cause constipation.
Good sources of natural fiber can be found in whole wheat bread, beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables as well as whole grain cereals. Drinking plenty of water can also help with general bowl health and make stools softer and easier to pass.
When trying to create a nutrition plan following a spinal cord injury, it’s best to consult with a medical professional. However there are several good resources online to help get a general idea of what diet principles to follow, such as this article by Epidural Stimulation Now.
A spinal cord injury should not be a barrier to regular exercise. There are ways in which to remain physically active to improve energy levels, mood and sleep patterns as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight and decrease instances of pain associated with the injury. Based on the ability of the individual, exercise regimes should include stretching, aerobic exercise and strength training. Individuals should focus on strengthening all the major muscle groups, and stretching regularly will help to prevent stiff muscles and joints. Aerobic exercise helps to improve your overall cardiovascular health, whilst strength training will help to improve the overall condition of the muscle groups that can be controlled by the individual.
Everyone should ensure that they drink plenty of water daily. For those with a spinal cord injury, as mentioned earlier, this advice is even more important.
Regulating body temperature and metabolism can both be concerns following this type of injury. Staying well hydrated can help with these issues as well as minimizing constipation and the chance of kidney infections from occurring.
Dehydration can have serious effects on the body, so it is advisable to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day, or 1.5 liters. Drinking more than this may be recommended if the individual has been exercising or if they are following a high fiber diet.
The power of positive thought is tremendously beneficial to everyone, regardless of their own individual circumstances. Coping with changes in daily routines following a spinal cord injury can be challenging and negative thoughts may be hard to banish at times. Positive thinking does not mean denying the reality of the situation. Finding new ways to focus thoughts and energy can have significant positive effects.
Finding activities to enjoy, connecting with friends and using calming breathing techniques and positive affirmations are just some of the ways to help any individual lighten their mood and remain positive.
Maintaining Healthy Skin
People who have sustained a serious spinal cord injury may often suffer from poor circulation, which in turn can lead to skin problems. Remaining in the same position for long periods of time decreases blood flow, which can cause issues with the skin including ulcers.
Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking plenty of water can help to keep the skin healthy and in good condition. Age also influences the elasticity of the skin, as does smoking and drinking alcohol. Avoiding these two things will help to improve the condition of the skin and the individual’s general health.
Moisturizing can also help to prevent dry patches, or even chapped areas from skin that is left wet or damp for long periods of time.