Everyone can experience the benefits of exercise. Additionally, it plays a vital role in supporting spinal cord injuries. Before getting insights on how important exercise for spinal cord injuries is, let’s give you background about the brain.
Our brain is the central system for every single part of our body. The most complex organ in the human body constitutes 2 per cent of a person’s body weight. Still, it consumes 20 per cent of the body’s energy.
Thousands of messages keep going in and out of our central nervous system each minute. However, it is a myth that we use only 10 per cent of our brains— a myth originating back as far as the early 1900s! A healthy adult brain contains approximately 86 billion neurons. Human brains are wrinklier than the brains of any other animal—a critical factor in our higher intelligence levels.
When we use the term “spinal cord injury”, this covers any injury that affects the messages being sent to the brain from the body, impacting the motions and ability of our bodies. Injuries can result from motor accidents, falls, surgical complications, disease or degeneration. And 20,000 Australians live with a spinal cord injury and its daily effects.
Why is exercise important for spinal cord injuries?
The side effect of an injury to the spinal cord is a lack of mobility and/or sensation. Movement is usually the first affected thing when the body and brain stop talking to each other. However, the degree of this varies from person to person.
Not being physically active can lead to a range of additional health issues – both physical and mental- and not moving the body can also worsen the injury’s effects.
Exercise can help improve strength and cardiovascular fitness and reduce the chances of developing a chronic condition (often the outcome of being sedentary). And it can also boost mood, self-confidence and focus.
What types of exercises are essential for spinal cord injuries?
Through our NeuroMoves clinics, we work with hundreds of clients and showcase various types of exercise.
Strength training can help build stronger muscles and bones, enabling us to improve non-paralysed powers and the ability of impacted muscles. Being more assertive can also help spinal cord injury patients by transferring more easily from their wheelchairs, reducing overuse and injury to the arms and shoulders.
Aerobic exercise is more than huff and puff. It’s about improving every single part of our body. Exercise can help (source):
- Improve our heart function and prevents disease
- Help manage our blood sugar and prevent Diabetes
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Improve the density of our bones
- Support our blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and so much more!
At NeuroMoves, we also use several specialised exercise methods, including:
Locomotor Training is a body-weight-supported treadmill program that aims to stimulate the nervous system. It is an intensive program developed in the USA that promotes recovery, focusing on posture, standing and walking patterns. This form of Training is supported by three highly skilled therapists who, with manual guidance, facilitate stepping and standing tasks to retrain the nervous system. Learn more about Locomotor Training.
Hydrotherapy is water-based exercises performed in a heated pool to facilitate or resist movement with the effects of gravity minimised. Research shows hydrotherapy increases muscle strength and mobility and reduces muscle or joint stiffness and pain. Learn more about hydrotherapy.
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES):
FES activates paralysed and weak muscles by stimulating a specific group of muscles. It can help improve blood circulation and may also prevent muscle wastage and pressure injuries, reduce spasms, reduce pain and improve bone density. FES can be delivered as arm or leg cycling or during functional movement patterns. Learn more about FES.
How NeuroMoves Can Help
Stressing the importance of using expertly prescribed exercise to improve life is our key message. Research has clearly shown movement can improve the day-to-day life of anyone impacted by a spinal cord injury.
Moreover, our dedicated and highly trained exercise physiologists have worked with various clients and helped change lives daily. If you are ready to add more movement to your life in a fun, supportive environment, get in touch with us today.
Our friendly team members are here to help and guide you, answering any questions that you might have.