Spinal cord injury: How physiotherapy can help?

Spinal Cord Injury is a condition where damage occurs to the spinal cord. Common causes of spinal cord injury include motor vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence, sports and diseases. This injury leads to the loss of a person’s ability to feel and move.

Spinal Cord Injury is diagnosed through a magnetic resonance imaging or CT scans. Approximately 20200 Australians live with a spinal cord injury. Approximately one third of spinal cord injury patients have a severe injury meaning they have no movement in the affected parts of their body.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury

  • Complete spinal cord injury this means you have lost all motor and sensory function below the affected area.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injury means that some motor and sensory function below the affected area is preserved.

Problems associated with Spinal Cord Injury

  • Physical- Due to the loss of sensation and movement control people may struggle to complete everyday activities.
  • Mental – Following a spinal injury diagnosis, you will need time to come to terms with the diagnosis. You may also develop feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety.
  • Social – People with spinal cord injury may find it difficult to participate in school, leisure or work.

How can physio help with spinal cord injury?

Fortunately, exercise has many benefits for spinal cord injury patients. A physiotherapist can help develop a tailored exercise plan to help with your recovery after a SCI.

The 3 main types of exercise that will be used include strength training, aerobic exercise and mobility work. Strength training is performed to maintain or build muscle strength in affected and unaffected muscles. Aerobic exercise is important for improving energy levels and preventing cardiovascular disease which spinal cord patients are at a higher risk of.  Mobility training will maximize independence by allowing people to get in and around the environment.

What exercise do we recommend?

Each program will differ depending on the spinal cord injury, health goals, exercise background and many other factors! Below are some examples of exercises:

  • Strength training- Shoulder press, Rows, Chest flies with resistance bands. Similar exercises with weights.
  • Endurance training- Exercise bike cycling, Arm cycling and row machine.
  • Mobility training- Transfers, Wheelchair training.

Here are some home exercises for Spinal Cord Injury.

Watch this video on aerobic exercise ideas for Spinal Cord injury.

Do you need help with managing your Spinal cord Injury? Call Unique Physio today on 02 9709 2803 and speak with one of our experienced and caring physiotherapists to book an appointment or book an appointment online through the link below.

Previous article Next article

20 min assessment

Book now


In pain? We are here to help.