Self care after a spinal cord injury
You may have questions about what you will be able to do for yourself in the future. The chart below is a guideline for what most people with a given level of injury will be able to do. Keep in mind that your situation may vary.
- Dependent means needing someone to help you.
- Independent means you can do it on your own.
|Spinal cord level||Feeding||Dressing||Bladder and bowels||Mobility|
|C1–3||Dependent||Dependent||Dependent||Electronically controlled electric wheelchair. Can use sip and puff or head control.|
|C4||Dependent||Dependent||Dependent||Same as above and can also use chin switch|
|C5||Self feeding with setup and use of adaptive equipment||Help with upper body dressing; dependent with lower body dressing||Dependent||Power wheelchair, joystick hand control, high back, seat belt, cushion, removable desk arms|
|C6||Independent with the use of adaptive equipment||Independent with upper body dressing; need help with lower body dressing||Dependent||Power wheelchair, joystick hand control, high back, seat belt, cushion, removable desk arms, modified van lift, hand controls|
|C7||Independent with the use of adaptive equipment||Potential for independence with the use of adaptive equipment||Bladder: Independent to some assistance
Bowel: Some to total assistance
|Manual wheelchair, removable desk arms, brake extensions, modified hand rims, modified van with transfer board, hand controls|
|C8 and below, including: thoracic, lumbar, and sacral||Independent||Independent||Bladder: Independent with intermittent cath. Bowel: Independent with digital stimulation||Manual wheelchairs, independent in car, unloading wheelchair, hand controls|
Equipment to increase independence after a spinal cord injury
- Bath bench
- Button hook
- Doorknob extension
- Dressing stick
- Elastic shoe laces/Velcro
- Environmental control units (computer that helps to turn on and off equipment, such as nurse call light, TV, radio, and fan)
- Leg lifter
- Long handle shoe horn
- Long handle sponge
- Raised toilet seat