A colostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in the colon to help manage bowel movements. Although surgery can be daunting, for many people with spinal cord injuries, it can be a helpful way to improve their bowel management and quality of life.

A colostomy is typically placed in the large intestine or colon. This creates a new opening that allows stool to leave the body before reaching the rectum. The stool then empties into a plastic receptacle on the outside of the abdomen, which individuals with SCI can easily empty into the toilet. This procedure allows them to manage their bowel movements better and improve their quality of life. Additionally, colostomy has several benefits for individuals with SCI, including:

Reduced risk of complications

Spinal cord injuries or nerve damage may damage the nerves that control the colon’s lower part, leading to various bowel-related complications such as constipation, fecal impaction, and bowel obstruction. Colostomy can reduce the risk of these complications by diverting stool away from the rectum and anus.

Easier bowel care

With a colostomy, bowel care becomes much more manageable and less time-consuming. Individuals with SCI who have colostomies can generally manage their bowel movements more conveniently and efficiently.

Improved skin health

Bowel incontinence can cause skin irritation, infection, and breakdown. Colostomy can help prevent these issues by diverting stool away from the skin.

Why Some Wheelchair Users Wish They’d Chosen a Colostomy Sooner

Increased independence

Colostomy allows people with SCI to be more independent in their daily lives. They can engage in activities without worrying about bowel accidents or the need to visit the restroom frequently.

In a post from New Mobility, several wheelchair users share their positive experiences with a colostomy. However, it’s important to note that colostomies come with both pros and cons. Adjusting to having a stoma can be challenging both physically and emotionally. The skin around the stoma may become a source of infections and complications, such as inflammation and irritation.

Before deciding on a colostomy, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons and discuss them with your doctor. They can provide you with the necessary information and help you make an informed decision. Our Peer and Family Support team is also available to offer non-clinical practice advice and share their lived experiences with physical disabilities.

Sources: National Library of Medicine/ 2



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