Maintaining a Healthy Physical Appearance

Physical appearance means a lot to people and it is part of our first impression when we meet someone. When we meet people we look at them. We see their face, hair, hands, feet, shoes and clothing. We don’t realize the challenges for paralyzed individuals for things that come so easily to able-bodied people.

For most of us how we look –getting dressed and maintaining a good personal hygiene is a relatively easy process. We can decide what to wear, comb and brush our hair, put on makeup, try a new hair style , try on clothes at a store, put our clothes on in the morning and take them off at night easily– all as part of our normal daily routine.

For a quadriplegic who cannot or has limited use of his or her hands, they are reliant on somebody to help them brush their teeth, shower, comb their hair, get dressed and more depending on level of injury. For paraplegics, having the use of their hands helps so much with personal hygiene and dressing. Think about when you got dressed today and what it would be like to have limited use of your hands or fingers.

If you are paralyzed, it is very important that you become as independent as possible in your care. Make sure that you are able to see your wardrobe and choose what you want to wear. Tell the caregiver or person assisting to help you with what you feel you need. Make sure you take the time when shopping to get your measurements and ensure that your clothes are fitting you properly, laying flat and straight on you or beneath you, to avoid bumps that can cause pressure sores. Tips on healthy skin maintenance, a leading cause of complications for people living with spinal cord injury, are below.

Healthy Skin Maintenance

According to the Mayo Clinic, skin breakdown is one of the leading causes of complications for people living with spinal cord injury. Anyone with limited mobility, unable to easily change position while seated or in bed, is at risk of developing pressure sores.

Immobility can be a result of generally poor health or weakness, paralysis, injury or illness that requires bed rest or wheelchair use, surgery recovery or long-term coma. Some warning factors that increase the risk of pressure sores (bed sores) include your age, lack of sensory perception, weight loss, poor nutrition and hydration, incontinence, excessive moisture or dryness, medical conditions affecting one’s circulation, smoking, muscle spasms or decreased mental awareness.