Nutritional Management for Spinal Cord Injuries

Table of Content

I. Abstract

            The spinal cord is one of the most delicate parts of the body and the nervous system. Damage to this part of the body can be caused by different accidents and can result to loss of sensation and control. The paper discusses about the many aspects of Spinal Cord Injury or SCI, from causes to its prevention and the nutritional management that an SCI patient needs. There are a lot of ways to manage the nutritional needs of an SCI patient. The paper will seek further if these ways are really helpful with the SCI patients.

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II. Keywords

Spinal Cord Injury, Nutritional management, Prevention, accidents, diet, body changes

III. Introduction

            Knowledge about the body is very important especially when it comes to the nervous system since it is one of the most important systems of the body. Knowledge about the spinal cord is also important to prevent from having spinal cord injuries. However, knowledge about the spinal cord is still important for SCI patients so that they could learn what to do for faster recovery.

            This paper aims to cover all the important aspects of the Spinal cord and the spinal cord injury. With the information given, the researcher aims to help those with spinal cord injuries to know about the nutritional management for SCI patients. The researcher also believes that there is a need for this research in order to enlighten those who have little knowledge about spinal cord injuries. Through this, the readers will have enough knowledge to avoid spinal cord injuries and know if they are suffering from one.

            The research questions to be addressed are:

What are the symptoms, causes, effects, and prevention of SCI?
What kinds of nutritional management techniques are best suited for SCI patients?
Are nutritional management programs a necessity for SCI patients?
Are nutritional management programs help in the fast recovery of an SCI patient?

            Accidents on motor vehicles have always been the cause of spinal cord injuries. According to a source, almost half of the approximately 7,800 or 44 percent nonfatal injuries on spinal cords have been recorded.  Aside from these accidents, violent actions also cause spinal cord injuries as well as falls mishap. Sports injuries, like injuries of diving, primarily result on spinal cord damages (WebMD, 2001).

            Spinal cord injuries (SCI) could also be caused by any pain or strain that pulls, constricts, moves sideways, or cuts the spinal cord. When an unusual object penetrated the spinal cord, it could also be seriously damaged. This could result to pressure due to bleeding, distension, and accretion of fluid (WebMD, 2001).

            However, it is infrequent that SCIs are caused by blood clots and tumors. There are also few cases that infections or abscesses and polio bring about SCI. Spina bifida and Friedrich Ataxia, an odd inheritable disorder, also rarely cause spinal cord injuries (WebMD, 2001).

            Spinal cord injuries would be more likely to hit the most flexible part of the spine. There are many distinct physical damages can be distinguished. Abrupt and intense jerks on tissues located near the spine could bump the spinal cord. This could then result to e momentary concussion of the spine. After a number of hours, symptoms of this concussion are completely gone. Bruise on spines can be bleeding inside the spinal column. Neurons on the cord could be killed by the stress from surfeit fluid. Some object, like tumor, could then cause pressing action on the cord and instigate spinal compression. Cuts or lacerations, on the other hand, hit directly the neurons. These could be brought about by bone wreckage or armaments. When the spines transected, the spinal cord could be severely damaged (Robinson, 2006).


            Normally, symptoms of damaged spinal cord become visible right after the injury or the accident. Nevertheless, some symptoms could also appear slowly. This happens when a contamination or tumor causes a gradual intensification of pressure on the cord (WebMD, 2001).

            Such symptoms could include:

·         Weakness

·         Poor coordination below the affected part

·         Numbness and pain

·         Loss of bladder control

·         Difference in sexual functions

·         Trouble on balance and walking

·         Difficulty on breathing, etc (MayoClinic, 2005).


            They always say that prevention is always better than cure. Although in our world today, there are a lot of ways to cure illnesses, prevention is still more advisable. To prevent spinal cord injuries resulting from car accidents, driving safely is the best way. Following traffic laws is one way of preventing car accidents thus preventing spinal cord injuries. Wearing a seatbelt is a must. Eyes must always be kept on the road and drunk driving could be a major cause of SCI. Another way of avoiding an injury in the spinal cord is avoiding violent situations. Guns are also major causes of spinal cord injuries. Always keep your guns in a safe place and lock the triggers to prevent accidental shooting. Falling can also damage your spinal cord. Always make sure that your place is safe enough to walk by. When it comes to sports, wearing safety gears and following the rules can help prevent spinal cord injuries. Diving, on the other hand can also cause spinal cord injuries. It can be prevented by being cautious and following the rules. Diving in shallow waters can cause serious SCI that is why ensuring the depth of the water is absolutely advisable. Lastly, discipline can prevent everyone from having spinal cord injuries. Following the rules and being cautious in every step of the way can prevent you from incurring serious SCIs (WebMD, 2001).

Nutritional Management for SCI patients

            When a person encountered SCI, it is expected that there would be a lot of changes in the body system. To cope with these changes in the body and to recover immediately, proper nutritional management must be implemented. When the body gets the proper amount of nutrition, the person with SCI can easily cope up with the changes in his body and can have faster recovery.

            Cardiovascular problems are very prominent with people with SCI because SCI patients lose their active lifestyle after had the injury. High blood pressures and heart attacks are two of the most common problems that SCI patients encounter. The nutritional recommendation for this is to lessen the amount of cholesterol consumption and reducing the amount of salt in the foods of the SCI patient (Faghri, 2007).

A high fiber diet is also recommended for SCI patients because bowel movement is also affected when a person encounters a spinal cord accident. Because of the injury in the spinal cord, communication between the brain and the intestine may be disrupted that often results to constipation and abnormal bowel movement. Aside from foods rich in fiber, drinking lots of water is also advised, maybe about 8-10 glasses a day (Faghri, 2007).

            Skin problems are also very prominent with SCI patients since their immobility gives chance for sores and skin breaks to occur. The nutritional advice for SCI patients experiencing this kind of problem is to take high protein, vitamins and minerals diet (Faghri, 2007).

            SCI patients are most likely to develop kidney and bladder problems because of the release of calcium and improper digestion of calcium in their body. Because of this, it is recommended for SCI patients to avoid dairy products or any products rich in calcium and drink plenty of water everyday Aside from kidney problems, drinking plenty of water and avoiding flavored beverages is also the solution for SCI patients suffering from Urinary tract infection (the injury causes bladder malfunction) (Faghri, 2007).


            We may never know when or where accidents will strike us. What we can be aware of is how to prevent them and how to cure the. With spinal cord injuries, it is important to prevent because having that kind of injury is a very serious problem. By having this research, we can conclude that nutritional management techniques are really important for the patients to cope with the changes in their body. Although it does not ensure faster recovery, it ensures a healthier SCI patient that could eventually lead to recovery.


            When suffering from SCI, choosing the right and proper nutritional program is the best way to cope with changes in the body. If it does not work, consult the doctor to avoid further injuries or problems in the body.


Faghri, P. D. (2007). Nutritional Needs of a Person with Spinal Cord Injury – A Two-Part Article.   Retrieved May 25, 2007, from

WebMD. (2001). Spinal Cord Injury.   Retrieved May 25, 2007, from

MayoClinic. (2005). Spinal Cord Injury [Electronic Version]. Retrieved May 25, 2007 from

Robinson, R. (2006). Spinal Cord Injury [Electronic Version]. Encyclopedia of Medicine. Retrieved May 25, 2007 from

WebMD. (2001). Spinal Cord Injury.   Retrieved May 25, 2007, from


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Nutritional Management for Spinal Cord Injuries. (2017, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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