When injuring the spinal cord, rehabilitation through continual exercise is vital to leading an active lifestyle and getting the very best out of the body. From leg exercises to stimulate blood flow to full-body cardiovascular workouts, there are a number of approaches to rehabilitation and some may need specialist equipment. This guide is an informational hub for both of these, giving you the options on how to fight against immobility after an injury to the spine. If you’re suffering from spinal injuries and looking for equipment, or are a physio looking after a patient with a spinal cord injury, this guide is for you.
The Importance of Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
A spinal cord injury is defined as neural damage to the spinal cord tissue that affects motor, sensory and respiratory function. The impact of this injury can be hard-hitting on not just the patient’s physical and emotional health, but also the family and friends of the patient too.
However, as demobilising as this injury can be, sitting for prolonged periods of time will only deteriorate the body’s health. A spinal cord injury rehabilitation programme should be put in place to allow the patient to live as healthy and independently as possible. Because of the complex and lifelong nature of this injury, any rehabilitation programme necessitates a multi-disciplinary approach.
Spinal cord injury rehabilitation is a long process that can be split into three critical periods: acute treatment which can be from 8-24 weeks; subacute rehabilitation which is usually between 3-12 months; and long-term chronic rehab which is a yearly medical lookover to review the patient’s condition.
There are multiple routes to rehabilitation of a damaged spinal cord, and their effectiveness depends on the nature of the injury. For incomplete injuries, gait training is of top priority to prevent spasticity in the muscles and joints that can limit movement further down the line. If left unresolved, the spasticity can lead to more frequent and severe spasms. Plus, on an emotional level, focusing on training their range of motion will allow them to lead more fulfilling lives with greater independence.
How can patients make the most out of their spinal cord injury rehabilitation? There are many forms of spinal cord injury rehabilitation equipment on the market that will do the exercises needed to build up and maintain fitness. For this purpose, it is clear that a standing aid is one of the most effective assistive devices that enable patients to undergo physiotherapy safely and beneficially.
Coming into use during the subacute phase, standing aids give the patient the support and aid needed to achieve the medical benefits of standing, which are detailed in the following section.
Models such as the EasyStand Evolv allow the user to lift themselves using either a manual hydraulic actuator or an optional push-button “Pow’r Up Lift”, so they can practise holding a standing position without any human assistance. With safeguarding features such as knee pads, adjustable backrests and a tray to rest the arms, there is no danger of the patient falling out of the standing position when.
For more involved exercise, the EasyStand Glider is a workout-focused model that combines assisted standing technology with a cross trainer. Users (or the physiotherapist) simply move the handle with their arms to create a reciprocating movement in the legs. The handle resistance can be adjusted accordingly to suit the patient’s physiotherapy regime.
EasyStand’s devices have a full range of adjustments, so as the rehab process progresses, they can be altered to provide less support and stability to force greater postural control from the patient. They are an all-encompassing solution to physiotherapy after a spinal cord injury that allows the patient to strengthen their body and exert autonomy over their life.
The Benefits of Standing After Spinal Cord Injury
Without exercising the leg bones in the first few years of rehabilitation, they will degrade and weaken, potentially leading to osteoporosis and bone fractures.
The ways in which standing helps cardiovascular fitness is two-fold. Standing will improve how well the body circulates blood to the legs, reducing blood clots and bettering heart condition. Additionally, standing exercises ameliorates respiration, as the diaphragm will be given more space to enlarge, in effect strengthening the lungs and the voice.
Gravity is one of the biggest helpers of the digestive system. Sitting down for too long will prevent this and reduce the control a person has on their bowels, whereas standing prevents accidents by activating the stomach muscles and using gravity to help the digestion process.
When sat for too long, the body will lose voluntary control of its bladder and will need to be treated with medication. Regular standing will eliminate the risk of leakage and UTIs.
Spending too much time not using parts of the body without proper load redistribution will result in pressure ulcers, but shifting body weight at regular intervals will keep them at bay.
For more information on the many studies that show the health benefits of standing, consult our directory here.
EasyStand’s models have helped thousands with regaining their ability to stand free of human assistance, giving them a greater sense of self-confidence and control over their lives. Our team loves seeing the emotional impact our devices make on people. If you’d like to get in touch with us about how our products could benefit you or your patient’s spinal cord injury rehabilitation, complete the form below.
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EasyStand’s models have helped thousands with regaining their ability to stand free of human assistance, giving them a greater sense of self-confidence and control over their lives. Our team loves seeing the emotional impact our devices make on people. If you’d like to get in touch with us about how our products could benefit you or your patient’s spinal cord injury rehabilitation, contact us today and we’ll be there to help every step of the way.