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Mobility After a Spinal Cord Injury

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Mobility is an important aspect of a spinal cord injury (SCI). The ability to move lets you participate more fully in community life and do the things you would like to do. You are not "confined" to crutches or wheelchairs—they make you independent. Mobility devices can help you get to work, go shopping, and get around outside your home. They may allow you to participate in races, basketball, tennis, and other sports. You can often get around as quickly as anyone else can walking.

Most people with an SCI use a wheelchair at some point. Even if you can get around with crutches, there will probably be times when you need a wheelchair. The two main types of wheelchairs are:

You select a wheelchair based on how much movement and feeling you have (your functional level of injury), how much you are able to do, how strong your upper body is, where and how the wheelchair will be used, and its cost. Questions you can ask are:

Other types of mobility devices include:

Automobiles

Just because you have an SCI does not mean you cannot drive. Many people with SCIs are able to drive with special modifications to their vehicle. If you feel you can drive, talk to your occupational therapist or case manager. You will probably have to go through a program that evaluates your ability to drive safely. This generally includes an evaluation of your visual and movement skills, reaction time, and hand function.


Credits for Mobility After a Spinal Cord Injury

Current as of: April 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Nancy Greenwald MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


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