Effective bowel and bladder care will help increase your independence and general health and wellbeing. It may just take some time to find what works for you the best and fits in with your life.
How is my bladder involved?
Spinal cord damage doesn’t stop your kidneys from producing urine, but it will affect your ability to control ‘when you go’ as you can no longer empty your bladder like you used to.
It can get to the point where your bladder can become over-full and urine will start to dribble out. Depending on your level of spinal cord injury, your treating urologist will determine the best way for you to manage your urinary output, as there are multiple options.
Types of Bladder Classification following a Spinal Cord Injury
- Spastic Bladder or Upper Motor Neurone
The injury point is above the level of T12-L1 in the spine. The reflex centre in the bladder is still intact with the bladder wall contracting as the bladder fills however you will not be aware when your bladder is full and won’t be able to ‘hold on’ until appropriate.
- Flaccid Bladder or Lower Motor Neurone
The injury point is at, or below T12-L1 in the spine. There is no reflex centre to tell you when your bladder is full nor will the bladder wall respond and contract and will continue to fill until it cannot hold anymore.
Urinary Tract Infections
Due to the impact on the bladder following a spinal cord injury, urinary tract infections (UTI) can occur so it is important to be aware of the causes and symptoms and treat accordingly.
The most common causes are a cross-infection during a catheterisation or bowel care routine or potentially an overdistension or stretching of the bladder and/or poor catheterisation techniques.
Key symptoms to look out for include nausea, fever, increased neuropathic pain, increased spasms, Autonomic Dysreflexia, and dark or cloudy, potentially smelly urine. Always consult your doctor if you suspect you have a UTI.
Bladder Care Program
Caring for and managing your bladder doesn’t have to rule your life or restrict your activities. Through the development of a bladder care program, you’ll regain as much control as possible over the functions of your bladder. By working with your team of Allied Health professionals, you’ll receive a unique and individual program that will work best for you.
Why it’s Important
Ensuring you have and stick to a bladder care management program is important for two key reasons.
Firstly, it helps you regain as much control as possible over the functions of your bladder. Secondly, it reduces your risk of infection. Proper bladder care and regular checks are key to avoiding urinary tract infections and further infections or stones in your kidneys and bladder.
It is recommended that bladder regimes be reviewed regularly with your health professionals, as it is likely that your bladder routine will change over your lifetime. A Community Nurse with spinal cord injury knowledge can be a great asset and give you current clinical advice.
Our experienced team of Community Nurses are available if you are looking for additional support and advice regarding bladder care, continence assessments and setting up a bladder care management plan. Telehealth is also available.
Contact us today to find out more.