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. Denise G. Tate, Ph.D., researcher, discusses Mental Challenges of a Spinal Cord Injury.

Denise G. Tate, Ph.D., ABPP

Professor and Associate Chair for Research

Co-Director, University of Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Model System

There are a lot of cognitive demands, because when you lose function, if you think about — you cannot move your arms. You cannot move your legs. You are in a wheelchair that is, for example, motorized so that you actually have to use these wheelchairs in different ways.

You have to learn all these different steps. You have to learn how to move the wheelchair. You have to learn how to take care of your bladder step by step or how to take care of your bowel step by step, and it can be very complicated in terms of medications, in terms of procedures.

So there is enormous kind of demands on people, and they already are very tired. They are stressed because of what just happened to them. So it can be very challenging in the beginning for people to learn and to be able to be independent right from the beginning, if they can. If they cannot, they have to learn how to work with a caregiver or a family member.

And then basically teach the family member or caregiver about how to help them out. So that person becomes their pair of hands. That person becomes the one that is going to remind them about the medications, about when they have to have a bowel process, a bowel program.

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