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 Research on the Causes of Constipation.

Denise G. Tate, Ph.D., ABPP

Professor and Associate Chair for Research

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

So questions about constipation are very interesting because we don’t have answers yet, and we at the University of Michigan with our Model Spinal Cord Injury Center are focusing our research right now looking at the medical complications from bowel dysfunction, looking particularly at complications like constipation and incontinence.

And one of the things that we have learned through our research is, there are certain factors that are associated with having constipation. Interesting enough, race is one of them. So being African American increases the risk for constipation. The cause for that, we are not quite sure.

It could be diet. It could be socioeconomic status, access to resources. It could be something genetic that we are not totally familiar with. The other factor is age. he older a person with a spinal cord injury is, the person who is able-bodied also is more likely to have constipation.

We also find out that people who have a regular scheduled for their bowel management also can avoid constipation better because they are on a regular schedule. Certain foods that you eat, certain fluids that you may take on, diuretics, for example, alcohol, coffee, can predispose you to both either constipation or incontinence.

So there’s a number of factors that we know are associated with constipation. I think what we need are more studies looking at the causes of constipation, and that – we really don’t have very good studies in the area of spinal cord injury, so –

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