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

    Strength and flexibility continued...

    What exercises you can do will depend on what part of your spinal cord was injured. You may be able to do:

    • Flexibility exercises on your own or with help.
    • Strength exercises with free weights or weight machines.

    Taking part in sports is an excellent way to exercise. And there are often leagues or groups to promote wheelchair basketball and racing and other activities. Staying active provides both physical and emotional benefits.

    Note: Exercise may trigger autonomic dysreflexia, which can cause sudden very high blood pressure and headaches. If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, stroke, and even death. These complications are rare, but it is important to know the symptoms and watch for them.


    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:

    • Healthy Eating.
    • Weight Management.


    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.

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