Eating healthy foods helps you reach and stay at a
healthy weight. Being either underweight or overweight increases your risk of
pressure sores. If you are underweight, there is more
pressure on the bony areas where the sores are likely to develop. If you are
overweight, there may be increased friction on the skin when you move, which
also can result in pressure sores.
People with SCIs may have
special nutritional needs, such as needing protein to
prevent pressure sores or increased fiber to help with bowel care. A
registered dietitian can help you plan a diet to meet
your nutritional needs.
For more information on a healthy diet and
weight, see the topics
Healthy Eating and
Mobility is an important aspect of an
SCI. The ability to move lets you take part more fully in community life and do
the things you would like to do. You are not "confined" to crutches or
wheelchairs. Rather, these devices make you independent. Mobility devices offer
you access to work or shopping or any other travel outside the home. They may
allow you to take part in races, basketball, tennis, and other sports.
Types of mobility devices include braces, crutches,
walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters.
Moving from your wheelchair to
other locations 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 assistance. There are general things that are important to
know when transferring, such as locking your wheelchair and making 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.
For more information on adapting your
lifestyle and home, contact any of the groups and Internet sites listed in the
Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.
Thinking of the future
Today, people with SCIs
live much longer than in the past. In many cases, one year after the injury,
life expectancy is close to that of a person without an SCI.3
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
Plan ahead for possible serious and
life-threatening complications. You, your family, and your doctor should
discuss what types of medical treatment you want to receive (such as whether
you want to receive mechanical ventilation) if sudden, life-threatening
breathing problems happen. This discussion may include the possibility of your
advance directive to state your wishes if you become
unable to communicate them. For more information, see the topics
Writing an Advance Directive and
Care at the End of Life.