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Importance of Standing for Those with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)

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In a previous post we talked about the importance of standing for those who have decreased mobility. We talked about the benefits standing has on preventing and slowing the process and osteoporosis and joint contractures (joint immobility).

At Walk It Off, our entire program is out of the wheelchair.  We incorporate not only standing in a session but other weight bearing activities with the body in various planes. The attraction to our facility is not just about the equipment we use for standing, but the one-on-one personal attention that our program calls for. We get EVERYONE up on his or her feet!

We continue the discussion of the importance of standing for those who have decreased mobility as we touch on:

  1. Impaired respiratory functioning
  2. Impaired bowel and bladder functioning
  3. Risk of pressure ulcers
  4. Increased pain
  5. Increase risk of depression

Impaired respiratory functioning

When sitting in a wheel chair for extended periods of time, the compression of the abdominal contents and the paralysis of the respiratory muscles (depending on the level of injury) cause a respiratory deficiency. When standing with assistance from gravity, organ compression is decreased in the thoracic (chest) and abdominal cavities allowing more room for the diaphragm to expand on inhalation. As a result, the depth and quality of each breath improves.

Impaired bowel and bladder functioning

Many individuals with SCIs require medication and or external manipulation to control everyday bodily functions. After a SCI, the bowel reflex to produce and form stool are intact though the process becomes sluggish. Medications are required to soften stool and increase motility.

The kidneys are amazing organs. As fluid passes though a matrix of tubules in the kidneys, waste/toxins are filtered and the body’s fluid balance is controlled. The act of standing with the assistance of gravity increases bowel motility and filtration rate in the kidneys.

Risk of Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers are caused when boney structures apply pressure to soft tissue for extended periods of time without pressure relieving. The ulcers start from the inside, eventually producing a sore at the surface of the skin. (There are other factors such as age, soft tissue health and nutrition.) Standing takes the pressure off areas that normally take all the load bearing.

Increased Pain

A healthy body is in constant movement. Immobility from an SCI can cause a certain amount of pain. Standing allows the body a reprieve from a constant sitting posture.

Increase risk of depression

It goes without saying, the emotional turmoil an individual must go through after a SCI is tremendous. The injury causes a complete life change and the adjustments are gruelling. Standing, amongst other exercises incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, can cause a release of endorphins and help with depression.

In our next blog we will discuss the types of load bearing activities and the equipment we use that set us apart from other SCI programs.

In the meantime, we welcome your feedback. Feel free to leave a link back to your own blog too if you have one, via the commentluv feature here on the site.

Until next time,



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