Tag Archives: pressure sore prevention

SCI Health Series: Preventing Skin Breakdowns

Pressure sores aren’t pretty nor are they fun, but they don’t have to be a default part of your life if you have a SCI. Despite their prevalence among people with paralysis, there are several tricks at keeping them at bay. After all, when you’re dealing with what is literally necrosis of localized tissue due to it being squeezed in a tight place, being on your A-game is a must.

And remember, pressure sores are prominent on bony areas like your sits bones, tailbone, elbows and any other parts of your body that don’t have as much tissue to protect the bones underneath. Pressure sores can develop anywhere from on the back to the bum. Here are the early signs to watch out for before unhappy skin turns into a full blown pressure sore.

Pressure Sore Warning Signs:

– Heightened red/pink area of the skin. When you touch to blanch it, this skin stays red after 10-30 minutes and won’t go away.

– Darker complexions: Areas of concern will be darker than the surrounding skin.

– Skin may be shiny in troubled areas.

– Skin that’s concerning may be warm or swollen, or cracked/dry.

Inspect Skin Daily

Looking at all of your skin when you’re paralyzed, especially your bum, everyday is a must. And if you don’t have assistance to look at all of your skin, you can always use a mirror or your phone to take a picture of any areas of concern. Also, make sure to measure the red spot so that you can tell if the area is getting worse in coming days.

Pressure Relief All Day

If you are able to, doing pressure relief of any kind in your chair from lifting up your legs to pressing your butt up off the wheelchair, is a must. Many quads also use tilt on their chairs to prevent pressure on troubled areas.

Drink Loads of water

We all know how good water is for the body, but it is even better for the skin. Drinking up to 8-10 ounces is preferred to keep skin in tip top-shape. It does wonders on the skin because skin is 64% water. Avoid soda if you can too.

Eat Skin-Healthy Foods

Foods that are rich in Vitamin E, D and Zinc are some of the best food out there for your skin. Also, foods are high in omega-3s like avocados are\ magic on the skin, making it glow the next day. Fatty fish also has amazing omega-3 properties. Basically, the healthier you eat, the better your skin will be. Green tea, dark chocolate, broccoli, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, walnuts and sunflower seeds round out the list of skin healthy foods.

Get the Right Seating for Your Bum

Having the right seating is incredibly important in keeping your skin in shape. You can get a high-grade seat made by respected seating companies like Roho or Jay, and or you can get a seat that is custom-made to fit your body/bum by a seating clinic in your area (ask your doctor). Whatever kind of seating you prefer, make sure to consult a seating specialist or a rehab specialist, like a physical therapist.

Avoid Skin Shearing

And our last tip, avoid shearing of your skin. It’s impossible to stop shearing altogether when you use a wheelchair, due to transfers, dressing, and other basic movements, but there are certain things you can do to lessen the effects: Avoid any kind of weird angle position-wise while in your wheelchair or bed, be aware of the fabrics you’re wearing, be careful while transferring/don’t drag yourself and make sure to check how your wheelchair fits you.

If all else fails and you do see a troubled spot, do not wait. Call your doctor, nurse or wound clinic right away.

What do you swear by to keep up your skin post-injury?

Learn more

Preventing and managing skin problems after SCI

Spinal Cord Injury: Skin & Pressure Sores

Pressure Ulcers & Skin Care

Pressure Sore Prevention Videos

Pressure Ulcers Can Wreck Your Life! Preventing and Managing Skin Problems After Spinal Cord Injury

Avoiding Pressure Sores

Pressure Release – SCI Info | Quadriplegic (C5,C6,C7)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Aging with a disability – paralysis


After a spinal cord injury, one of the last things you think about is aging with a disability. You think about other things – what kind of wheelchair you’re going to get, what your career will be, will you have your own family one day, will you find someone who will want to be with you romantically. Getting old, and all of the side effects that come with it, is one of the last thing on our radar.

But aging is one of the biggest things we go through in life, and those with spinal cord injuries are not exempt. However there are loads of things you must take into consideration  about aging with a disability. Everything from your skin to your overall strength is affected differently.

Here are three videos every person with a spinal cord injury should watch if they plan on living into their golden years (and you better plan on it gosh darn it!). People with spinal cord injuries are now living well into their 70’s and 80’s. It’s up to you to prepare yourself for aging with a disability.

The first video comes from one of the best disability channels in the world, Attitude TV. They have disabled newscasters and create disability-centric content. In this video, Aging with a Spinal Cord Injury, Curtis Palmer, a C7 quad, interviews five people with spinal cord injuries in Australia who’ve been injured for over 18 years, including his friend (and fellow quad rugby player) currently on bed rest because of a bad decision on his part (ignoring a scratch on his butt from a bad shower transfer).

And Curtis interviews a C5 quad who’s had to switch from a manual chair to a power chair at the 20 year mark, and what that’s meant for his life (including having to get a different vehicle). He also interviews a paraplegic school teacher who’s been paralyzed for 40 years, as well as Paralympian who is a firm believer in sport. Watch!

The second video is more of an educational-style video, but is just as important. It covers one of the most important things a wheelchair user should protect – their shoulders (which can take the brunt of so much we do). In this 1 hour video from the University of Washington, a clinician goes over all of the ways a person with a spinal cord injury can preserve their shoulders (which were not meant to be a weight-bearing joint). She also outlines the importance of staying active after a SCI when it comes to cardiovascular health. Watch her presentation

And last but not least, a 3 minute video covering one of the most important things a person with a spinal cord injury should know – how to prevent pressure sores, especially as you age. If you have a pressure sore for example, did you know you have to consume three times the normal amount of protein each day in order to heal your wound?  Learn that and more in this video from FacingDisability.

It’s quite the understatement to say nobody likes to get old, but we do have control over how we age, even if we have a spinal cord injury. Aging with a disability can be graceful, and these videos set us get on the right track.

What changes in your body have you noticed since aging with a disability?

Watch the videos about aging with a disability!

“Aging with a Spinal Cord Injury” from Attitude TV

Protecting Your Shoulders and Staying Active after Spinal Cord Injury

Diet and Pressure Sore Prevention while aging with a disability