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. Patty Zuba, O.T.R., clinician, discusses Troubleshooting and Seeking Help.

Patty Zuba, O.T.R.

Occupational Therapist

University of Michigan

People get frustrated at home because, you know, in the hospital for however long that they’re here, whether it be a couple weeks, several months, we’re basically telling them when they’re eating, when they’re pooping, when they’re peeing, when they’re doing everything, and now all of a sudden we’ve empowered them to do this themselves. Some people get it and can make a nice transition. Other people not so much.

It may be that they don’t have the support from family or friends or caregivers. Maybe they just didn’t quite get it. I mean we give them lots and lots of information when they’re in the hospital. So I think that’s a struggle, and I think too eating hospital food versus eating homemade food and foods that actually have flavor and spices and stuff does have an impact on the program.

If they have trouble at home, a lot of times what I recommend that they — again, evaluate what their diet is, what their medications are to see if that could be a factor. The other thing I suggest is contact the PM&R clinic. And the other thing that’s even more — depending on time of day that they’re contacting them, they might be closed, and so I always suggest that they contact the rehab unit because more than likely there was a nurse on the unit who worked with the patient and can kind of troubleshoot with them on the phone and kind of help guide them so that they can make the right decisions of the next plan or what to do.

In terms of whether or not you have to troubleshoot all the time or if your bowel program becomes stable, it totally depends on the person. Some people, you know, they have no problems. For whatever reason they are on a good regimen. They hardly ever have problems. Other people, no matter what they do, they still have problems. So it truly is specific to the individual.

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