If autonomic functioning of the bladder and bowel is impaired, the person affected would have to learn to manage these functions consciously. Optimal bladder and bowel management is important to avoid complications such as recurring bladder or kidney infection, or in the worse case, permanent damage.
Until 60 years ago, the life expectancy of persons with SCI was low due to such complications and for which no long-lasting treatment options were available. Thanks to the development of effective bladder and bowel management strategies including trained professional care, technological and medical aids, the life expectancy of persons with SCI has increased to almost the same level as persons without SCI. Bladder and bowel management is also an issue addressed early on in the treatment of SCI.
Another major issue confronting persons with SCI is recurring pressure sores. Specific attention should be paid to the sensitivity of the skin, since this is decreased in persons with SCI. Furthermore, persons with SCI frequently experience respiratory difficulties, and body temperature regulation in tetraplegics and paraplegics with high lesion levels is affected.
Despite the range of complications and difficulties that a person with SCI can experience, these can be addressed in a concerted effort by the person with SCI, his/her family or caregiver and, if engaged in a rehabilitation program, the rehabilitation team.
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