Monthly Archives: August 2005
Researchers have much data showing that people with spinal cord injuries have a high quality of life. Many people are surprised by this. “How can spinal cord injury survivors have all the problems they do with their health, their finances, their mobility and independence, and with getting jobs and personal care assistants, and still claim that they are happy and their quality of life is good?” they ask. “How can everything seem so good when compared to others, things are so bad?”
You’ve probably heard enough about skin to last a lifetime. It’s THE thing that health care professionals hammer on the most. And with good reason – Skin Breakdown remains one of the leading complications spinal cord injury (SCI) survivors have. It accounts for countless days of missed work, school and fun. It results in costly surgery, and its complications can even end in death. It is a big deal. However, the purpose of this article is to look at skin from another angle. We’re going talk about other health issues that increase or decrease your RISK of having skin problems.
Even people who do everything right sometimes end up with skin sores. In fact, in any given year, according to researchers, just about one-quarter of all SCI survivors will have a Pressure Sore. Why?
You already know that a spinal cord injury causes an Impairment of the muscles involved in breathing the higher the injury, the greater the impairment. That’s strike one. The fact that smoking is harmful to your lungs is hardly news. Still, that’s strike two. How smoking affects your lungs just what happens when you smoke and what this means when you have a spinal cord injury and an already compromised respiratory system is what’s important to know.
You’ve Heard it All Before…
Thirty and forty years ago, no one “in the know” believed that aging with a spinal cord injury would be something we’d care about. Back then, no one believed any of the “survivors” would survive long enough for it to matter Now that assumption has been disproved and the tune has changed. We’re identifying and learning more about the issues and concerns facing survivors–problems like fatigue, upper extremity pain, urinary system problems, caregiver issues. But Spasticity doesn’t seem to have a place on that list. There hasn’t been much research into spasticity and aging, and what SCI survivors tell us varies. Some say their spasticity has gotten worse over time, some say it has lessened, and most don’t say much of anything.
Because spinal cord injury can be a life changing event, your whole way of life – including your spirituality — is challenged. You may find yourself questioning your life goals, work, responsibilities to your spouse or children, parents and friends. While there are five dimensions that comprise good health – social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual – spirituality is the one dimension that is usually overlooked. It is probably the least talked about and addressed in hospitals and other health care settings. It is also the dimension that may be the most controversial and misunderstood.
Just What Do We Mean by Spiritual?
For many SCI survivors, recapturing independence is your single most significant achievement. You view any concessions to that independence accepting more help, using more or different equipment as giving up, as failure, as the ultimate defeat. But it’s hard to deny the fatigue and pain that may come from years of pushing a manual chair. Switching to a power chair actually could be the way to maintain that independence…
It could be a traffic jam, or a busy airport. It could be at school or on the job. Wherever your look, you can see signs of stress and tension. Stress is everywhere in our society, and there’s a lot of evidence that it affects our health.
Stress and Spinal Cord Injury
Many people believe that having a spinal cord injury must be extremely stressful. While no one knows this for sure, some recent research is helping us find answers to this question.
For 20 years, Tom had “no aches, no pains, no nothing.” Why was his luck changing now? Maybe his shoulder pain started because his new van didn’t have power steering, or maybe it was because he was doing a lot more wheeling on carpet. Regardless, now his shoulders hurt. Thinking that the pain might go away, he waited. But, after three or four months, the pain was so bad he couldn’t stand it anymore. A trip to the doctor left Tom with more information and some difficult choices.
So you gained five pounds in the last year; no big deal. It’s probably not enough for anyone to notice. But think about it: What’s five pounds a year? It’s twenty pounds in four years. Fifty pounds in ten years. One hundred pounds in twenty years! Were you planning to be around in twenty years? Imagine carrying 400 Quarter-Pounders around on your back every minute of your life. Yikes!
One of the first questions out of your doctor’s mouth is often something like, “How are you feeling?” More than just a conversation starter, your answer to this question can often be one of the best predictors of how healthy you actually are and will be. You see, nobody knows your health better than you and nobody can have a bigger impact on your health than you.
It turns out that many different researchers in many different papers have come to a similar conclusion: people’s self-rated health has a strong relationship to their actual physical health. Most people, it appears, feel healthy.