We all know that exercise is important and we should try to do enough of it each week to remain fit and healthy. Exercise is also really important for individuals who have sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI).
Many people think that it’s all but impossible to exercise effectively after an injury like this, but there are several ways to stay active, even with significantly reduced mobility.
Here we take a closer look at range of motion exercises and how they can benefit people with spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord injury range of motion exercises are designed to improve flexibility and mobility in the joints. Even if an individual has no mobility at all in a specific limb, it is still important to try and regularly undertake ROM exercises.
They help maintain flexibility and can prevent joints from becoming stiff which, in some cases, could cause pain. Range of motion exercises also reduce the risk of problems such as spasticity, where a muscle twitches or spasms involuntarily.
There are two types of range of motion exercise:
The joints, muscles and ligaments are still very important, even if an individual has lost the ability to move as result of an injury to their spinal cord. Over time and with inactivity, the ligaments contract and stiffen and muscle mass is lost. This is likely to happen with any type of spinal cord injury.
Even for people who have some range of motion in a joint like the knee, it’s important to have a fixed exercise regime for each area. If these regular, daily exercises are not employed, the individual may find their ability to perform simple daily tasks difficult, such as getting dressed.
It’s important to put together an exercise regime as soon as possible after a spinal cord injury and this should be done in conjunction with a suitably qualified health care professional, like a physiotherapist who specialises in working with SCI patients.
Whether an exercise is passive or the patient can perform it on their own will depend on the level of injury and disability.
Here are just a few examples:
ROM exercises play an important part in maintaining mobility and should prevent health problems such as stiffening of the joints in the future. Above are just some of the exercises that can be incorporated into a ROM regime and attempted everyday.
As always, it’s essential to seek professional medical advice before one decides to proceed with a new exercise routine following a spinal cord injury.
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