Health and Wellbeing after SCI
Health priorities post-injury change quite considerably. Beyond rehab and initial healing, your diet and lifestyle are some of the biggest factors influencing life after SCI. It’s not a simple case of doing more exercise, though; the changes to your body can make some activities unsuitable. It’s about finding a new balance, a new outlook - and a new way to thrive.
Challenges to Health and Wellbeing
Limited mobility makes wellness harder to access - it’s a challenge that faces many disabled people. Inclusive sport and activity is available, but not widely - and having to travel compounds that inaccessibility further. Finances can change, as well as your ability to cook and feed yourself, so making healthy choices becomes harder.
Learning how your body works and what you can do after injury can take quite some time, too. Good bowel care is demanding but vital to your overall health, and requires at least some small changes to your diet.
As important as your physical wellbeing is, in the early stages of your transition into life with SCI, it’s your mental health that needs to come into sharp focus. Over time, your mental and physical wellbeing begin to merge into one - into the whole of you.
Injury level will largely dictate the sports and activities you can take part in - but there really something for everybody, and adaptive sports (like wheelchair basketball) have opened to more people with limited mobility in recent history.
Sports for People with Paraplegia
- Wheelchair Tennis
- Wheelchair Basketball
- Wheelchair Rugby
- Adaptive Golf
- Hand Cycling
- Adaptive Riding
- Scuba Diving
- Adaptive Skiing
- Adaptive Waterskiing
- Weight Lifting
Sports for People with Tetraplegia
- Quad Rugby
- Twin Basketball
- Adaptive Skiing
- Hand Cycling (injury level-dependent)
- Racing (injury level-dependent)
- Scuba Diving
Aspire Channel Swim
The Aspire Channel Swim is the original swimming challenge, where participants swim the equivalent 22 mile English Channel crossing – in their local pool! It’s open to all abilities and there’s a 12 week window to make the journey.
The team at Aspire Law is taking on the challenge, and we’re raising money for Aspire Charity. Please donate to our JustGiving page, to help us support the charity so close to our hearts.
Maintaining a Balance
Finding your own rhythm is all down to you and your goals. Maybe you want to maintain your fitness, or get fitter than before - to enter a race or train up for a sporting team. Maybe you just want to feel good and release some endorphins, or kickstart your metabolism. Whatever it is, it’s great to have a goal, even if it’s just to enjoy yourself! That way, you can work your activity time around the rest of your schedule and see if you’re getting the balance right.
The Benefits to Body and Mind
Beyond the obvious benefits of greater strength and improved fitness, exercising after spinal cord injury can improve mobility, reduce susceptibility to pressure sores and grant greater flexibility.
People with SCI are at greater risk of secondary conditions than non-injured people, and physical activity can help prevent almost all of them: osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes and arthritis to name but a few.
It’s also a great way to meet new people, and can lead to amazing friendships and inclusion on teams - or to a lifelong solo pursuit of your personal best. It’s an opportunity for personal and social growth for a section of society that can be lonely and isolated, and we already know how bad loneliness and isolation are for our mental health.
A study of 1.2million people in the USA found that exercise and mental health are linked. Participants who exercise reported having fewer days of poor mental health per month when compared to those who didn’t exercise.
Too much exercise can be counterproductive to both your physical and mental health - so striking a balance is vital. Too much, and you risk fatigue and injury. It can become boring and demoralising when all your effort amounts to less than you’d expected. Three to five 45-minute sessions per week is the sweet spot. Any more, and you’re putting yourself at risk - so remember to take it easy.
We’re a Different Kind of Law Firm
Aspire Law is a specialist law firm, working for people with SCI. We help and support everyone affected by spinal cord injury.
Get in touch: give us a call on 0800 030 20 40.