Nowadays, as we get older, we are focused more on the quality of life we want to enjoy, as opposed to just postponing or preventing death. This means planning for when we get older, but having a SCI adds further complications to physical health that have to be considered. These include impacts on the following body systems:
- Nervous – leading to decrease in fine motors skills, reaction time and walking ability
- Musculoskeletal – osteoporosis can lead to fractures. Also overuse of shoulders
- Cardiovascular – people with a SCI are 3 times more likely to have heart disease
- Respiratory – increased chance of pneumonia and sleep apnoea
- Gastrointestinal – constipation, incontinence, gallstones, acid reflux and weight gain
- Urinary – decreased bladder capacity, kidney function and increased risk of kidney stones
- Immune & endocrine – compromise the ability to produce growth hormones & testosterone
- Integumentary – decreases in collagen production, skin elasticity and thickness
Plan for tomorrow, today
All these sound bad, but it is important to remember that anyone with a SCI has the potential of living a long and fulfilling life – if they make the right lifestyle choices. Basic things like healthier eating, giving up smoking, reducing your alcohol intake and exercising regularly, work the same for those with a SCI as for the rest of the population in increasing quality of life as you get older.
One thing to bear in mind, is that those with a SCI need to make these choices earlier than an able-bodied person. This is because, post-injury, changes to the body (especially in relation to losing bone mass in the lower body and changes to the cardiovascular and endocrine systems) mean you have to be proactive in making the changes to ensure your health is your number one priority.
As you get older you need to be conscious of the changes to your body and adapt accordingly. This could be something as basic as realising your shoulder pain can be alleviated by switching to a powered wheelchair.
Being mindful of what you need to do today, to improve your quality of life tomorrow, will help you avoid or alleviate health problems as you get older and enable you to cope with sudden changes to your health.
If you have a SCI and would like to exercise more from your wheelchair, but are not sure how best to go about it. Why not get in touch? Our range of gym equipment and FES cycling solutions are a great way to keep fit and improve your health. What’s more they can be used by SCI patients from their wheelchair, without any need to transfer.
Call us on 0800 180 4850, or fill out the form below or to the top right of this page to find out more.