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. Connie Pines, RN, clinician, discusses Digital Stimulation and Evacuation by a Caregiver.

Connie Pines, R.N.

Community Outreach and Recruitment

University of Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Model System

A typical bowel management for someone with a high level cervical cord, spinal cord injury is they lay in bed, turn on their left side, and generally every day they take a laxative in the form of a tablet, usually more than one, and about an hour prior to the bowel program they take a suppository. And the suppository stimulates the bowel to begin moving stool down into the lower part of the rectum.

And as soon as the person is laying on their side, they have a padded area around their hips, and the person doing the bowel program wears gloves and lubricant. And they actually do something called digital stimulation, and that’s where they put their index finger into the rectum of the person with the injury and spend about one minute doing circular motions with their finger. And that stimulates the bowel, and it encourages stool to come down into the lower part of the rectum.

And then at that time it is evacuated. You put two fingers into the rectum, and you evacuate the stool that’s coming down. If for some reason there is no stool that comes down after the first minute, then you wait another minute or two, and you repeat that cycle again and then evacuate stool. Sometimes it takes up to 30, 45 minutes for the stool to completely evacuate. Sometimes it takes longer.

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