Moving toward control and independence

Because the two-way communication system between brain and body is often affected or cut off with an SCI, your bladder and bowel control has likely changed. Facing this reality can be tough and is often emotional. But in time, you will acquire the knowledge and training you need to regain control and independence.

The Bladder – Issues

Overactive or spastic bladder. This occurs when the muscles in the wall of the bladder are constantly pushing and you cannot control when you urinate.

Flaccid or non-reflex bladder. This refers to not being able to urinate when your bladder is full. It is likely that the muscles of the bladder are not strong enough or the ring that holds the bladder shut won’t relax.

Urinary tract infections (UTI). A UTI happens when bacteria enters your bladder and multiplies, often caused by the use of catheters. If not treated, the infection can spread to your kidneys and further.

Bladder or kidney stones. These are caused when waste does not get removed properly from the bladder or kidneys. Indwelling catheters can increase your risk, as the catheter itself can form a build-up that leads to stones.

The Bowel – Issues

Reflex bowel. This refers to a bowel movement being triggered any time the rectum is full, without a sensation of fullness and not knowing when it might occur. This could happen frequently throughout the day.

Flaccid bowel. The nerves involved with a bowel function are damaged, which means that you are not able to have a bowel movement even when the bowel is full. This often results in constipation.

You will need an individualized protocol to address and overcome the particular bladder and bowel issues you face. Work with your health team to understand your situation and determine what’s right for you. They will provide you with detailed information and guidance.

We’re here to help when you need it. Our Peer Support Program is a great resource.

Looking for support in this area? Connect with the SCIO Regional Service Co-ordinator in your area.