This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Managing Bowel Function After Spinal Cord Injury. Tom Hoatlin, SCI Survivor, discusses Different Types of Independence.

Tom Hoatlin

Sustained a Spinal Cord Injury in 1991

I think that it’s the single most thing, your bowel and bladder management, that patients worry about in the hospital but especially when they’re going home. And we like to talk about being independent with as much of their care as they can, and that means — with a paraplegic being independent means breaking free from having anyone help you with your bowel program, so being independent literally.

And then we talk about folks with high tetraplegia that can’t physically help with their bowel program, but they can take charge and they can say exactly the steps that they want their caregiver or their family member to follow. I like to have the suppository at this time. I like to have digital stimulation done this way and every 15 minutes. I like to stop at about 45 minutes, one hour maximum.

So they’re directing their care and that’s what we call independence for them. So I think it’s really important that you take control of your bowel and bladder management and sort of take away some of that shame and take away some of the embarrassment of having someone do this personal thing for you.

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