How To Exercise Optimally For A Lower Level Spinal Cord Injury

If you’ve suffered a lower level Spinal Cord Injury, the road to recovery may seem interminable. However, it is essential to remain as physically active as possible for proper healing. Your therapist will work with you to create a tailored exercise program with the ideal goals and exercises to support your healing. Here, we provide an introduction to the types of exercises recommended for a lower level Spinal Cord Injury, as well as tips on making the most of your treatment.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is mutilation to the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. Spinal Cord Injury may be complete or incomplete depending on the extent and severity of the damage. It largely occurs due to vehicular or sporting accidents and affects mainly people between the ages of 16 and 30. 

Exercise options for patients with lower level SCI

Physical Therapy is crucial for patients with a Spinal Cord Injury, not only to bring back strength to the affected muscle but also to maintain a healthy body weight, avoid complications like high blood sugar, and boost the mood. In a lower level Spinal Cord Injury, the focus is on strengthening and toning the lower body muscles with an emphasis on maximizing functionality. There are three key components to exercise for an SCI patient.

  • Aerobic exercise: This is excellent for cardiovascular health and can be either moderate-intensity or high-intensity. Cycling, swimming, rowing, and circuit training are all efficient forms of aerobic exercise. Any aerobic exercise session should include a light-intensity warm-up and cooldown.
  • Strength training: This involves targeting major muscle groups with machinery, free weights, or bodyweight to enhance functionality and improve muscle strength. Patients should perform them in sets of eight to 15 repetitions depending on the weight used. Proper form is crucial to target the right muscles and prevent injury.
  • Stretching: Stretching and flexibility training is a key part of the best Spinal Cord Injury treatment in Bangalore. The best stretching programs will focus on all the major muscle groups and particularly the shoulders and joints, as these are most prone to injury and tightness. Stretching exercises can be done alone or with a companion, and should ideally be done multiple times a week.

Things to keep in mind when starting an exercise program

Benefitting from the best Spinal Cord Injury treatment in Bangalore is as much about mindset as it is about the exercise itself. As you embark on this journey, remember that there will be ups and downs and that you need to keep going nonetheless. Here are some tips to help you out.

  • Get the right nutrition: Getting the most out of your exercise program requires a proper diet with all the food groups in the right proportions. Load up on lean protein, fiber, and vegetables. Reduce processed food intake.
  • Start slow: If you were not accustomed to exercising before your injury, start small with 10 minutes per day. As you get used to it, you can amp it up. The important thing is to keep showing up.
  • Pay attention to any injuries: Patients with Spinal Cord Injury often lose feeling below the injury level, which means that you could be sustaining cuts or muscle strains in your lower body without realizing it.
  • Consult your doctor about aids: If you are noticing higher levels of exhaustion, or a decrease or stagnation in your abilities, ask your doctor about wheelchairs or other mobility aids that you can use to get around.
  • Don’t lose heart: There will always be tough days when you simply can’t perform an exercise or you feel too low to even try. Take breaks if you need to, but always come back and keep trying. Results may be slow, but they will happen.

A lower level Spinal Cord Injury can be life-changing in the effort and attitude it requires healing. While it is undoubtedly a challenge, trust that you are receiving the best Spinal Cord Injury treatment in Bangalore and keep putting in the work. Stay consistent, follow your therapist’s recommendations, and listen to your body at all times. Before long, you’ll be seeing the results.

Dr Na'eem Sadiq is a respected stem cell specialist at Plexus, and a prominent neurologist in Bangalore. He studied neurology and clinical neurophysiology in London, and worked with some of the most prestigious medical institutions in England, and the Middle East. He completed his MBBS at Bellary Government Medical College, and a postgraduate degree in psychiatry from NIMHANS in Bangalore.

Dr Na'eem has perfected his knowledge and expertise in Continuing medical education (CME), and training in tissue culture, Stem Cell Therapy, and neurology. Dr Na'eem Sadiq possesses an undying passion to improve people’s lives. This led to the creation of Plexus, a neuro and Stem Cell Research centre in Bangalore in neurosurgery, and neurorehabilitation.