When you’re in a wheelchair, it’s important to look after your overall health. Getting around can be hard enough. You don’t want to have to contend with any secondary health conditions. Here are five potential risks to your health that you should guard against.
Weight gain: Although many manual wheelchair users gain upper-body strength, other wheelchair users become more sedentary because of the nature of their injury. If you have a spinal cord injury, it’s likely that the muscle mass below your injury has decreased, and the fat has increased. Your metabolism has slowed, and it’s much easier to put on weight. Weight gain, however, can make it harder to move and increase joint pain and the likelihood of developing pressure sores. Talk with your health-care professional about an eating plan that will help you avoid weight gain.
Diabetes: If you put on weight — or become obese — your likelihood of developing diabetes rises dramatically. This is partly because the way your body processes insulin has changed. Your injury might mask some of the symptoms, such as increased thirst and excessive urination. It’s important to see your doctor regularly for blood-insulin testing, and if you do develop diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter.
Bone and joint pain: Manual wheelchair users are susceptible to shoulder pain, rotator-cuff injury and stress on their extremities. Muscle tightness can develop in front of the shoulders, and opposing muscles can become longer and weaker. Work with your physical therapist to avoid these problems.
Pressure sores: Loss of muscle tone and diminished circulation can cause pressure sores to develop. Examine your skin regularly to spot any developing sores, and treat them quickly and daily until they are gone.
Cardiovascular disease: Wheelchair users who are overweight are at an increased risk of developing heart problems. Again, a healthy eating plan is essential.
Are you looking for a wheelchair or a scooter? Let Power Mobility & Lifts help you find the equipment that meets your specific needs. Give us a call. We serve clients throughout Arizona, and we’re happy to answer all of your questions.
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