Now a days people can expect to live longer lives and the SCI community is no exception. In recent decades rates have dramatically increased. In 1940 the average life expectancy after SCI was just 18 months, but by 1998 expectancy was much closer to that of the general population.
Thanks to better survival rates from initial injuries, better treatment and understanding of secondary injuries such as bladder infections and pneumonia, life expectancy continues to improve.
As you age with SCI you will experience the same health issues that affect everybody, so the goals are the same. Minimise the impact of ageing and to maintain independence, overall health, and a good quality of life.
Ageing joints can cause you some difficulty. You may experience pain and mobility issues from overuse syndrome, especially the upper limbs (shoulder, arm, wrist and hand).
This effects at least 50% of the SCI population and is more common and severe in older individuals and increases with time since injury. It is caused by overuse, wheelchair pushing, lifting to help with pressure releases and the use of crutches to help walking in individuals with incomplete SCI.
To minimise joint issues gentle exercise and keeping weight down are recommended. It may also be worth considering joint and limb preservation strategies even in the initial phases of rehabilitation training like using a transfer board to reduce the strain on your arms.