Spinal cord injury has a considerable influence on the quality of life, including activities of daily routine, life probability, and is an economic burden, with a substantial cost linked with primary care and loss of income in many cases.
While the most evident consequence of the injury is quad paresis, there are much broader concerns associated with it. Individuals with quadriplegia regard recovery of arm and hand function as a priority. However, patients with paraplegia focus on the recovery of sexual function when compared with bladder, bowel function, eliminated autonomic dysreflexia, gait abnormalities, and eradicating chronic pain. At the Everest Rehab website, you can find more about spinal cord injury.
These associated complications are dealt with with certain therapeutic interventions, which address these priorities. However, for maintained mobility, certain exercises are recommended. The exercises aim to enhance mobility, alongside teaching muscles and the spinal cord to work in sync again.
In this article guide, you will get to know exercises recommended after spinal cord injury. However, before that, it is important to recognize why patients should opt for exercises.
Why Should Patients Opt For Exercise After Spinal Cord Injury?
It is a true belief that damage to the spinal cord isn’t reversed. However, the spinal cord is still able to adapt certain things with the process of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is CNS capability to renovate itself since the spared pathways can pick up the slack and learn new functions.
The process of repeating weakened movements constantly helps in stimulating the spinal cord and improve neurological adaptations. In simpler words, the more your practice these exercises, the higher the chance is of improving mobility.
However, it is important to remember that it depends on spared neural pathways.
Since you are now familiar with the importance of exercise, let’s move on to exercises that can really make a difference.
Exercises Recommended After Spinal Cord Injury
Passive Range Of Motion
Every spinal cord injury varies in terms of functional outcomes. However, all patients with SCI are capable of doing a passive range of motion exercise. In general, this exercise doesn’t require patients to exert any energy; instead, it is carried out with the help of a physical therapist and caregiver.
The goal of PROM is to move joints through their full range of motion. It inhibits stiffness, contracture formation and promotes circulation in the body. Additionally, patients are advised to perform passive range of motion once a day to prevent any stiffness.
However, if patients have the ability to control their movements, they are recommended assisted AROM or active range of motion.
Exercises For Legs
Patients are advised to practice specialised leg exercises after spinal cord injury. It helps in strengthening muscles of the leg, which are necessary for a walk again. Additionally, it lessens muscle atrophy and encourages adaptive changes in the spinal cord.
For this reason, leg stretches are advised for patients, which require a strap, resistance band, and large towel. However, gentle stretching is advised to prevent further damage. Besides leg stretching, other ex’s included for leg mobility are:
Try to sit at the edge of the seat and alternately raise your knees.
Straight Leg Lifts
Lay down supine with straightened legs and lift them straight without bending knees. Lift the leg upward, and try to hold it for few seconds. After bringing it down, and repeat it with the other leg.
Lay down in a supine position, straighten your legs and point the tows down, the ankle is extended. Now, raise the feet up towards your knees and flex your ankles.
Place an item between your knees and press them together. Hold it for 10-20 seconds.
Exercises For Hands
Spinal cord injury patients who experience an injury at the level of cervical or high thoracic encounter weakness in hands. Following hand ex’s are recommended, helping in developing fine motor skills.
Hand clenches involve curling the fingers towards the inner side of the palm. Hold the fingers in this position for 3-5 seconds and then release to stratighten them.
Exercise For Core
After spinal cord injury, core ex’s are important because they even out the trunk for better posture and balance.
Take a breath; hold it for three seconds while engaging your core muscles.
Back Extensor Isometric Hold
Sit on the edge of the seat, lean back against the chair. Hold for few seconds, and make use of core muscles.
Sit on a chair and move the torso to the side without moving the lower body.
Things To Keep In Mind While Exercising
Spinal cord injury varies from one patient to another and depends on various facts, including the severity of the injury, level of injury, etc. For this reason, you should watch out for several components, including:
- Skin problems
- Autonomic Dysreflexia
- Overuse injury
People with SCI are at a greater risk of developing other health-related problems. They are at high risk for other conditions such as cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, the inactive lifestyles of such patients contribute significantly to additional health issues. For this reason, exercises are recommended for spinal cord injury patients that not only help improve the pain, discomfort, and immobility issues but also reduce the risk of health problems.