Preventing Illness in those with Spinal Cord Injuries

preventing illness in spinal cord injury patientsDiet and nutrition play a large role in our body’s everyday functions and overall well being. We have heard sayings such as “healthy body, healthy mind” or “you are what you eat”. As cliché as those sayings may be, there is no denying the truth behind them. As is true with everyone, proper nutrition plays a large part in reducing the occurrence of health concerns or preventing illness particularly for those living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and more specifically, for those that are commonly related to the injury.

Diet and Prevention of UTI’s

One of the most common secondary health concerns regarding clients/patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are urinary tract infections (UTI’s). SCI clients/patients experience a heightened risk of developing UTI’s from the frequent need to perform intermittent catheterization to empty their bladders on a daily basis. The average incidence rate of UTI’s is 10.3 per 1000 catheterizations.

Diet can play a role in prevention and treatment of UTI’s. Maintaining a diet high in Protein, Zinc and Vitamins A, C and E can help with management of UTI’s.

Examples of foods high in protein are:

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Nuts and seeds

Examples of foods high in Zinc are:

  • Yogurt
  • Green peas
  • Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds

Foods high in Vitamin A are:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash

Vitamin C is found in foods such as:

  • Lemons and limes
  • Oranges
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers

Vitamin E is found in:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Olives
  • Almonds
  • Spinach

Drinking cranberry juice, taking cranberry pills and/or D-Mannose powder is often used as a preventative measure against UTI’s. D-mannose is the active substance in cranberries that creates a “slipperier” surface on the bladder wall, like a teflon coating, making it more difficult for bacteria (mainly e. coli) to take hold.

Diet and Maintaining BMD

Maintaining bone mineral density (BMD) is another health challenge for individuals living with SCI. Approximately 30% of BMD is lost in the first year post SCI, with the rate of loss slowing in subsequent years. Standing, walking and other load bearing activities are pertinent to increasing and maintaining BMD. At Walk It Off we aim to help you maintain and potentially increase BMD through use of:

  • Functional electrical stimulation (in the form of our FES bike)
  • Standing
  • Gait training
  • Other load bearing exercises
  • Vibrational therapy.

However, we encourage a proper nutritional diet to support our efforts and assist with BMD maintenance.

Calcium and Vitamin D are some of the main nutrients for maintaining strong bones. Calcium is imperative for sustaining healthy bone and teeth structure. It is also useful for muscle control and blood circulation. Vitamin D is necessary for total calcium absorption into the body. Together, Calcium and Vitamin D play essential roles in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Some examples of foods rich in calcium are:

  • Dairy products
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Beans and peas
  • Salmon
  • Almonds.

Vitamin D is obtained by the body through exposure to sunlight; it is also obtained by consuming foods such as fatty fish, liver and egg yolks.

There are other additional components that should be considered when modifying diet for individuals with SCI such as eating foods high in fiber for good digestion and elimination. By building in time for regular physical activity and preparing foods with the recommended nutrients and calories, individuals with SCI can reduce their risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases on the road to a healthy lifestyle!

Want to learn more? We are here to help! If you are someone living with a SCI, we would love to connect with you and assist you on your path to a healthier lifestyle through diet and nutrition. We would be more that happy to share what we know and give direction to some amazing individuals and references. Simply connect with us via email or telephone or leave a comment right here on the site!

Until next time,

Rebecca Wheeler (SCI Recovery Trainer)

The New Lift Walker for SCIs – Here at Walk it Off

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Here at the Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre, we are always looking for new and exciting ways to challenge our clients. We have recently taken the plunge and invested in a number of new assistive devices and exercise equipment to get those of you with SCIs moving. Most notably, the New Liftwalker  is a revolutionary piece of equipment designed to get people in wheelchairs up on their feet and walking. The most exciting feature of this device is its safe and convenient ability to lift individuals directly from their wheelchair – no transfers required.

Like us, Charlie Guitierrez, the designer of the New Liftwalker, believes that individuals in wheelchairs might be able to learn to stand, take steps, or perhaps walk again if they are provided with the appropriate tools to do so. This device will provide another alternative to our already available standing options, allowing clients to weight bear and retrain motor pathways with the hopes of one day being able to walk again. Continue reading

Celebrating 3 Years at Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery Wellness Centre!

27139389_sa copyOn Wednesday January 21, 2015, Walk It Off Spinal Cord Wellness Centre will be celebrating 3 years of operation, making a difference in the lives of people who have suffered a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). To showcase our achievements, we cordially invite you to attend our Open House on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015. Drop in from 12:00pm-5:00pm.

We would not be where we are today without the hard work and generosity of our many supporters. There are so many who have made Walk It Off what it is today; by volunteering their time, participating in our many fundraisers and many who have supported us with monetary donations. Our clients and their families make Walk It Off a unique environment. There is so much positivity and support which we see on a daily basis. We cannot forget the amazing group of SCI Recovery Trainers who have made the program such a success and made a difference in our clients’ recovery process. Continue reading

Olfactory Ensheathing Cells and Spinal Cord Recovery

Darek Fidyka
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In recent months, there has been a breakthrough in spinal cord injury recovery. Research has been looking into the possibility of injecting cells from other areas of the body into the site of injury to see if they can help repair and regenerate the injured cells of the Spinal Cord. Focus had been placed on stem cells for their ability to adapt and change into the cells of their surrounding environment. However, recently the focus has shifted to olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC). Continue reading

December Donations Discount Member Training/Therapy Fees at WIO

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The holiday season is one for caring, sharing, and being with loved ones. For those of you struggling to find the perfect gift this holiday season, consider giving back and donate to Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre. For the month of December, all donations received will go directly towards discounting members’ training and therapy fees. 

Throughout the rest of the year, we put all of the donations received right back into the facility to help purchase new equipment to assist in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) recovery. This helps to subsidize the costs for individuals with spinal cord injuries who participate in SCI Recovery Training and Physiotherapy here. Continue reading

FUNDRAISERS, FUNDRAISERS, FUNDRAISERS!! – Benefiting Walk it Off this 2014

walk it off recovery fundraisingIt’s that time of year when we ask everyone to help us raise funds for our program here at Walk it Off Recovery. We are honoured to announce 3 fundraisers – all benefiting WIO this 2014 holiday season. Please mark your calendars for…

2014 Scarf Auction pic for fb1. 5th Annual Walk It Off Scarf Auction

As cooler weather approaches, so does the 5th Annual Walk It Off Scarf Auction Fundraiser – November 22-30, 2014! To ease into the season changes, think about adding a handmade goodie to your wardrobe to keep you or a loved one warm through the fall and winter. It’s also a great gift idea for the Holiday Season!

All of the proceeds from the auction go directly towards purchasing new equipment for Walk It Off. Continue reading

‘Total Gym’ Equipment for Spinal Cord Injury Clients at WIO

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The Total Gym (TG) is a piece of equipment recognized throughout the fitness community for bodyweight training, functional training, conditioning, and rehabilitation therapy. We are fortunate to have a TG at the Walk It Off facility that was generously donated by the DeHaas Family of Aurora. As you can see in the picture (left), we have one of our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) clients, Kevin (C5/6 Complete), lying on an angled sled that can slide up and down on a guide rail as the client performs squats. The sled can also be locked in a stationary position. The Total Gym (TG) offers many benefits to a Spinal Cord Injury client because it is adjustable to suit the individual’s physical abilities, needs and exercise goals no matter the level of paralysis. Completing exercises on the TG allows the client to perform movements they would not usually be able to complete, in a safe and controlled manner with the assistance of the SCI Recovery Trainer here at Walk it Off when needed.

Please take a moment to watch this video of a client on the TG. Continue reading

New Beginnings Here at Walk it Off Spinal Cord Recovery Centre!

left to right: Matt, Alyssa, Rebecca (click to enlarge)

left to right: Matt, Alyssa, Rebecca (click to enlarge)

There are new beginnings happening here at Walk it Off Spinal Cord Recovery Centre! Three of our trainers are starting new chapters in their lives:

SCI Recovery Trainer/Physiotherapist, Shannon Davidson is hanging out a shingle as she starts her own physiotherapy practice based from her home in Bradford. SCI Recovery Trainer, Talal Chaudhry has been hand picked by Rugby Canada and given the opportunity to attend a Rugby referee development program in British Columbia. We all wish him luck as he gears towards refereeing at a national level. Lastly, SCI Recovery Trainer, Ashley Richardson will be completing a Masters degree in Kinesiology and Health Science at York University this coming year. We are not saying good-bye to Ashley. She will be reducing her hours here at Walk It Off as much of her time will be spent on her scholastics. Help us wish these tremendous individuals farewell and best of luck in their future endeavors. Continue reading

Spinal Cord Recovery Program – Whole Body Vibration Therapy

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As part of our spinal cord recovery program here at Walk It Off, we encourage our clients to get active and out of their chairs during their workout sessions. One of the components of a workout session is getting the clients standing with a trainer.  We are able to offer our clients the option to use vibrational therapy by way of the Vibe Plate during this standing session. Standing offers many health benefits to individuals with spinal cord injuries, some of which include increasing bone mass density, bowel and bladder function. The Vibe Plate uses Whole Body Vibration (WBV) technology, which offers additional health benefits to the individual standing on the equipment. It has been suggested that using the Vibe Plate for 10 minutes, three times a week will result in improved range of motion and flexibility, increased blood circulation and muscle strength, and increased bone density to help fight osteoporosis. Continue reading

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for those with Spinal Cord Injury

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Hello there! My name is Talal and I am a trainer at Walk It Off Spinal Cord Recovery and Wellness Centre in Newmarket.  I would like to share information regarding one of the training modalities we use with our spinal cord injury clients called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES).

After a spinal cord injury, many individuals will have weaker muscles or muscles that can only be activated through external stimulation. We use two techniques to stimulate contraction: Nervous System Activation Technique (NSAT-discussed in our previous blog) and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS). EMS is a modality that is used by placing electrodes over the skin of a targeted muscle group and then a current is passed through to generate muscle contractions.

Continue reading