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Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - Life With a Spinal Cord Injury

Nutrition

Eating a healthy diet can help you reduce your risk of some complications and can make other tasks, such as bowel management, easier. And it can help you reach and stay at a healthy weight. Being either underweight or overweight increases your risk of pressure sores.

If you have special nutritional needs, such as needing extra protein or fiber, a registered dietitian can help you plan a diet.

For more information on a healthy diet and weight, see:

Mobility

Mobility is an important aspect of a spinal cord injury. Mobility devices, such as crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters, can help you be more independent. They may allow you to work, shop, travel, or take part in sports.

Moving from a wheelchair to another location is known as a transfer. Your injury and strength will determine what type of transfer you can do. You may be able to do it yourself, or you may need help. There are some important things to know for safe transfers, such as to lock your wheelchair and make the distance between the transfer surfaces as small as possible.

Adapting your home

As your rehab ends, you and your loved ones need to start thinking about what you need to do when you are at home. Because you may have to use a wheelchair (lowering your height) and have limited movement and feeling, you may have to adapt your home.

Considerations for adapting your home include ramps and widened doorways, special utensils for eating, and special devices for dressing and grooming.

Thinking of the future

Today, with improved medical care and support, the outlook for people with SCIs is better than ever. In many cases, 1 year after the injury, life expectancy is close to that of a person without an SCI.2

If you are planning to work, you have the same legal rights as before your injury. People with spinal cord injuries who want to work are legally protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Plan ahead for possible serious and life-threatening complications. You, your family, and your doctor should discuss what types of medical treatment you want if you have a sudden, life-threatening problem. You may want to create an advance directive to state your wishes if you become unable to communicate.

For more information, see:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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