Staying Healthy (100,000km Tune Up)

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After a spinal cord injury, there is a higher risk of having health issues. These can keep you from doing the things you like. To live a long and healthy life, you will need to take extra care of yourself. Below is a checklist of things you should do to help you stay healthy.

Get Regular Checkups

Doctor checkup (yearly): Having regular visits with your doctor can make sure things are caught early. This keeps you healthy and reduces the need to use emergency visits. Discuss any changes to your mood, mental health, or well-being. Talk about options for giving a break to your caregivers, spouse, and family members. Respite services may be available. Your doctor should check your heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

Urology tests (yearly): Bladder and kidney health is important after spinal cord injury. Getting a kidney and bladder ultrasound every year can help find problems early. Your urologist might also do a scope and kidney tests.

Bone tests (every 1-2 years): Spinal cord injury can make your bones weaker. This can put you at risk of breaking a bone by simply doing regular activities. Get a bone density exam every 1-2 years to make sure your bones are healthy.

Breathing tests (annually for some people): Ask your doctor if you need breath stacking, breathing, or sleep apnea screening tests.

Cancer tests: A spinal cord injury can put you at risk of certain types of cancer. Women should do monthly breast self-exams. Men should do monthly testicle self-exams. Other routine cancer screenings are available.

  • Colonoscopy (after age 50)
  • Prostate exam (men after age 40)
  • Pap smear and pelvic exam (women every three years)
  • Mammogram (women over age 40 every two years)
Stay Healthy and Active
Important Activities after Spinal Cord Injury
  • Eat 15-30 grams of fibre each day. This can helps with your bowel health.
  • Reduce pressure on your skin. Relieve pressure every 15 minutes by leaning or doing wheelchair ‘push-ups’. Use pillows to reduce pressure when in bed.
  • Check your skin every day and check your wheelchair regularly.
  • Service your wheelchair and medical devices 1-2 times per year. Make sure they work well and that your wheelchair seating is set up properly.
Maintain a Balanced Lifestyle
  • Exercise regularly. Do at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise two times per week. Do strength training at least 2 times per week.
  • Drink 2-3 liters of clear fluids each day. This helps your bladder, bowel, and blood pressure.
  • Keep a healthy weight. This helps your transfers, skin health, and heart.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is bad for your heart and lungs.
  • Keep your caffeine intake to less than three servings per day.
  • Control your alcohol intake and avoid binge drinking.
  • Practice stress reduction strategies.
  • Get your flu shot each fall and keep your vaccines up to date.
Participate
  • Take up a hobby.
  • Find a job or go to school.
  • Volunteer to give back to the community.
  • Participate in research.
Stay Organized
  • Keep a list of your surgeries, medications, and allergies.
  • If you have autonomic dysreflexia, always carry your information card.
  • Keep a home library of your spine images (CT, X-ray, MRI).

Disclaimer: Information is provided for educational purposes only. Consult a qualified health professional regarding specific medical concerns or treatment. University Health Network does not assume and disclaims any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in this publication.