John Fields loves his Magic Bullet (see "Love Your Bowels" below).

John Fields loves his Magic Bullet (see “Love Your Bowels” below).

Disability can be a bully. And it’s so in-your-face with bladder infections and bowel accidents and pressure sores that you may not be aware of subtler damage that paralysis visits on your lungs, heart, metabolism and other underlying structures. Think you know it all? Recent research is creating options in treatment and prevention that may offer new ways to keep the bully at bay.

Note: The basic frame for this article comes from “Maintaining Health Long-Term with Spinal Cord Injury”, written by Craig Hospital’s medical director, Dr. Daniel Lammertse, and published in the Winter 2001 Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. Most of the 10 ways to stay healthy also apply to MSers, with exceptions and additions noted below.

1. Breathe Easy
Respiratory illness is the number one cause of death among people with SCI and advanced progressive MS, and the risk increases with age. Doctors’ advice? Quit smoking, get flu shots, get pneumonia vaccinations, stretch your chest and exercise. MSers should check with their physicians, since sometimes flu shots can cause fever and exercise can cause overheating. Usually the shots and exercising in cool water are still recommended.

Although respiratory issues are significant for all sedentary people, you are more susceptible to infections and breathing obstruction if you can’t cough on your own