Food for thought after spinal cord injury

7th May 2021

Food for thought after spinal cord injury

Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet is always important, but never more so than after a spinal cord injury.

At Higgs & Sons, we are passionate about helping those affected by spinal cord injuries. We support The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) as its Trusted Legal Partner in the West Midlands region and our team is always learning new ways to help and advise people as best we can.

Recently, we’ve been learning about the importance diet plays after sustaining an injury.

When somebody suffers a spinal cord injury, it is likely that they will experience some form of paralysis. It is understandably much harder, if not nearly impossible, to exercise. Therefore, it is important to look for other ways to stay healthy and nutrition is a key part of this.

Unfortunately, there can be numerous medical conditions and complications that can follow a spinal cord injury that individuals have no control over. This can include muscle tissue loss due to the lack of movement, weaker bones or muscles and even paralysis of bodily functions and limbs.

Poor nutrition can cause these complications to develop further. However, by adopting and maintaining a healthy balanced diet medical conditions can be eased or avoided. Eating healthily can help to ensure that the body is in the best condition to help tackle rehabilitation.

The road to recovery following a spinal cord injury can be a long one and a main concern that people have when starting their journey is the decreased or inability to exercise and stay active. Due to the decreasing amount of metabolic activity, the body needs less energy to function, this comes in the form of calories. It can become very easy to put on weight through consuming foods rich in calories with low nutritional values, as there may be no means to work off the extra calories.

If following a spinal cord injury, the individual does not adhere to a good nutritional intake then they not only risk gaining weight, but potentially this could lead to the development of other medical conditions such as diabetes.

A spinal cord injury will make the digestive system work slower, so by eating foods such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain products this will assist in adding fibre into the diet to aid digestion.

After a spinal cord injury, due to the likelihood that the individual will have difficulty moving or will be in the same position for a long period of time, is common that pressure sores can form. 

Pressure sores can occur when pressure is applied over a period of time as the pressure can cut the blood flow to the area of skin and when nutrients are started an ulcer can form. Being overweight can make this situation more likely as can having conditions that affect blood flow. By ensuring the individual gets enough protein in their diet, it can reduce the chance of getting sores and also help to heal existing ones.

The key to maintaining a healthy diet after spinal cord injury is consistency. Extreme changes in diet can be overwhelming and difficult to maintain. Spinal cord injury is a lifelong condition, so it’s essential to find changes that can be stuck to in the long-term.

At Higgs & Sons, we ensure that clients who would benefit from the input of a specialist in nutrition and dietetics get the support they need.  Rehabilitation Case Managers who oversee the rehabilitative process for our clients are skilled in identifying situations where a client needs nutritional advice, whereupon we take steps to fund the involvement of a specialist.

Speak to the team today for advice.


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