There are many benefits of exercise after a spinal cord injury (SCI). Damage to the spinal cord can present various challenges, affecting mobility, independence, and overall well-being. According to a publication from the National Library of Medicine, a study found that bone density decreased by 40% by two years post-injury. Thanks to advancements in assistive technology, innovations such as standing frames and exoskeletons have emerged, offering a range of physical and psychological benefits. In this blog post, we will look at various pieces of rehabilitation equipment we have at Vim Health that can be used after a spinal cord injury to increase bone density, circulation and well being.
Circulation and Cardiovascular Health
Spinal cord injuries often reduce blood circulation and cardiovascular function. The use of gym equipment such as the Ski-Erg provides low-impact exercise. This involves a rhythmic pushing and pulling motion that resembles cross-country skiing. By utilizing the upper body muscles, including the arms, shoulders, and chest, individuals with SCI can enhance their upper body strength, endurance, and overall cardiovascular fitness. Combining the EasyStand Glider can also allow individuals to assume an upright position, thus counteracting the adverse effects of prolonged sitting or lying down. By standing, blood flow is improved, reducing the risk of circulatory problems, pressure sores, and deep vein thrombosis. Regularly using the EasyStand Glider can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels and enhance cardiovascular health.
Prevention of Muscle Contractures and Spasticity
Muscle contractures and spasticity are common complications of SCI, leading to muscle tightness, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. The EasyStand Glider offers a means to counteract these issues by gradually stretching and lengthening muscles. Regularly assuming an upright position can mitigate muscle contractures, help prevent joint deformities, and maintain or improve their range of motion. A sedentary lifestyle associated with SCI can lead to bone density loss and weakened skeletal structure. Using an exoskeleton such as the REX exerts a gentle weight-bearing force on the bones, stimulating osteoblast activity and preventing osteoporosis. Regular weight-bearing whilst exercising after a spinal cord injury promotes bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and improving skeletal health.
Improving Digestion, Bowel and respiratory function
SCI can disrupt usual bowel function and digestion. Standing frames can alleviate these problems by stimulating the digestive system and improving gastrointestinal motility. The vertical posture of standing encourages the natural movement of the intestines. This reduces the risk of constipation and promotes regular bowel movements. Additionally, better digestion can enhance nutrient absorption, improving overall health. Sitting or lying down for extended periods can compromise respiratory function in individuals with SCI. Standing frames can promote deeper breathing, expand the chest, and strengthen respiratory muscles. Improved lung capacity and oxygenation can reduce the risk of respiratory infections and contribute to better respiratory health.
Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Exercise
Regular exercise can help combat depression, anxiety, and stress that may arise from the challenges of living with a spinal cord injury. The release of endorphins during exercise contributes to a positive mood. We support individuals to exercise independently in our accessible gym, to promote a sense of empowerment, boost self-confidence and improve mental health. Not everyone can get to a gym so creating an exercise routine you can do at home is vital. This will help you to maintain positive mental well-being and reduce risks of secondary complications.
Get in touch
You can access our gym via a lift, where you will find our qualified physios on hand to support you on your health journey. If you are interested in signing up for our VIM Gym membership or would like more information on our facilities, please get in touch.