Everyone will experience ageing, no doubt, but for people with spinal cord injuries, ageing may involve some other health and lifestyle issues.

Ageing and spinal cord injury

The life expectancy of people with spinal cord injuries in the last 20 years has significantly improved. However, the wear and tear and general effects of a spinal cord injury will change our lifestyle and health practices, contributing to a long, happy, healthy life.

What do you need to know?

Ageing affects everyone, but a spinal cord injury can speed up ageing. Meanwhile, individuals with spinal cord injuries face more challenges when dealing with some health issues caused by it. Therefore, first, we need to be aware of these factors and may experience:

  • shoulder and upper limb pain
  • more difficulty transferring
  • reduced mobility – either in your wheelchair or walking
  • the trouble with daily care tasks
  • skin problems and pressure sores
  • weight gain
  • other pain

Moreover, people with SCI have a higher incidence of the following conditions [1]:

  • high blood pressure
  • cholesterol disorders
  • diabetes
  • overweight/obesity
  • infections, primarily pneumonia, urinary tract infections and complications from pressure sores
  • bladder cancer

Concentrating preventative care on high-risk conditions specific to the SCI population is essential.

Keys to healthy ageing

Ageing never stops, but we can keep our ageing healthful with some scientific strategies, for example:

  • Get regular health check-ups.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercising to maintain weight.
  • Get involved in social activities to gain friendships and lessen isolation.
  • Use adaptive equipment appropriately and more.

In addition, we’ve had a factsheet about ageing and spinal cord injuries. Please access the page if you want to learn more information about the topic.


[1] Things to Know About Aging and Spinal Cord Injury (PDF). 2018. developed by the SCI Aging Special Interest Group of the SCI Model Systems.




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