An individual who has sustained a spinal cord injury usually demonstrates some loss of motor function and/or sensation in extremities. The type and location of injury often dictates the severity.
Once the body has been stabilized and the individual has been rehabilitated to his or her fullest potential, establishing a wellness routine can be beneficial to staying well and maintaining functional capacity. This overall approach encompasses many issues, including exercise. A well rounded exercise program should include components that promote fitness and help to maintain functional independence. Some components of the exercise program can be incorporated into a home program, while others may necessitate special equipment or supervision. Exercise participation may be limited depending on the level of function and/or adaptability of equipment.
Prior to beginning an exercise program, it is important to work under the consultation of a physician who specializes in spinal cord injury. Choosing a facility with experienced personnel and adaptive equipment is also essential.
While able-bodied individuals can monitor their heart rate to know if they are getting a good cardio workout, that method doesn’t always work for those of us with spinal cord injuries. People with T4 level injuries or higher lack the nervous system’s ability to get their heart rate to a “normal” level for a moderate to vigorous intensity workout. Without being able to gauge a workout via heart rate, one way to discern if you are getting a good cardio workout is to ensure you are breathing heavily, but are still able to carry on a conversation. Getting a good cardiovascular workout is one step in the process of maintaining – or regaining – a healthy lifestyle for me.
As a result of a lower-than-average heart rate during exercise, low blood pressure can occur. Blood pressure can become low enough that a person may feel dizzy or faint common in cervical level injuries. Using compression stockings, staying well-hydrated and using medication, if required, are options to help with low blood pressure. I found the abdominal binder I use for stability is very useful to stabilize my blood pressure also. Another good tip is to start your workout slowly and steadily increase its intensity and blood pressure will slowly stabilize.
After spinal cord injury, muscles that help breathing, the diaphragm, intercostal (muscles between the ribs) and abdominal muscles may be functioning in less that optimal ways. Focus on controlled breathing techniques throughout.
Essentially what happens when you injure your spinal cord above the T4 level is your ability to sweat and regulate your body temperature no longer works. As ok, but you have to be extremely vigilant about your body; It is important that exposure to extreme temperatures be avoided and proper hydration essential.
Simple Stretches are great to reduce spasm and joint ache