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Time To Change Public Perceptions of Spinal Cord Injury



Today is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day and the focus is on the bowel care campaign launched by the Spinal Injuries Association’s to address the challenges a person faces when they sustain an injury.


A spinal cord injury does not just affect the ability to walk, but all bodily functions below the point of injury including bladder and bowel function.


Mohammed Belal, a Consultant Urological Surgeon, who himself sustained a spinal cord injury after being struck by a tree in 2021, believes the hardest part of his journey was the bowel care.


“There is still a lack of knowledge around the public perception of spinal cord injury (SCI) and SCI Awareness Day is important so that more of us have a greater understanding of the many issues that SCI people must face on a day-to-day basis,” said Mohammed.

According to Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), specialist bowel care is an issue which has been routinely ignored by policy makers for years, with serious consequences for patients.


“The injustice of lying in bed with all sense of dignity and control lost must stop,” said Carol Adcock, a specialist nurse for SIA.


“Imagine you’ve been told you cannot go to the toilet. You’ve been put in a nappy and told to poo in that, and then wait for someone to come and clean you up. Your family and associates are willing to come in and help you go the toilet, but they are not allowed.

“Your bowel is becoming so full that there is a serious risk of bowel perforation but before this occurs you are terrified because you know if this doesn’t kill you then the risk of your blood pressure reaching such high levels could kill you anyway, but no one is listening. SIA hear of similar versions of this scenario every week.”


In a survey of spinal cord injured people undertaken by the Spinal Injuries Association in 2022, 72% of respondents said they faced significant bowel management challenges in their life.


“We understand that change won’t happen overnight, but we will continue to actively campaign on this issue until we see an end to this needless suffering,” said Dave Bracher, SIA campaigns manager.


“It’s time we were all more open about bowel care but unfortunately, it’s still a subject that patients feel embarrassed to discuss but this is the reality of life for far too many spinal cord injured people. This is Serious Sh1t.”


If you’d like to be involved in a future forum, and/or if you can support the campaign around the areas of data/evidence, personal or institutional connections, or just generally spreading the word and making the campaign more visible, you can email Dave Bracher at d.bracher@spinal.co.uk


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