Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 35 | Number 1 - Page 2

HEALTHY LIVING Abnormal Isn’t Normal When It Comes to Health by Phil Klebine, MA How familiar does this story sound? Someone starts to feel that something just isn’t quite right. It’s a little thing that didn’t seem like a serious health concern. But that seemingly small thing turns into a serious health crisis. I’ve heard this scenario play out too often with people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Except these “little things” may not be so little. I recently met two people who allowed me to share brief summaries of their stories. They learned lessons that they wish they had avoided. Jake’s Lesson In 2010, Jake got a C6 injury at the age of 20 after diving into shallow water. For the most part, he has stayed in good health. His lesson started when he noticed he was getting a stuffy nose. He did what most people do. He bought over-the-counter cold medicine to take. By the next morning, he was feeling more tired and weak. But he had no fever. His temperature was actually a little lower than normal. It can’t be the flu without a fever, Jake thought. By the end of the day, Jake developed a cough that seemed to make it a bit harder for him to breath. But he simply didn’t think it was too serious to call the doctor. Jake finally called a local clinic after 3 days of feeling lousy. He told the on-call nurse practitioner about his symptoms – stuffy nose, tired, weak, cough but no fever. She told him it was probably viral. He could continue taking the cold medicine for his symptoms and call back in a couple of days if he didn’t feel better. Jake felt much worse a day later. He had a high fever. He was nauseated. He was coughing up nasty-looking mucus. He called the local clinic again and was told to go to the local Emergency Department. There he was hospitalized with Pneumonia, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The pneumonia also led to Bacteremia. This is a serious complication in which the pneumonia bacteria spreads into the blood. Jake was hospitalized because he was in danger of his infection leading to septic shock. Septic shock is also known as blood Septicemia or blood poisoning. It can lead to organ damage or failure and can lead to death if the infection isn’t treated right away. Jake spent a week in the hospital and took another month to fully recover from the pneumonia. He learned a few hard lessons from his experience. Jakes biggest mistake was that he didn’t know the facts about pneumonia after SCI. He didn’t know he was at a higher than normal risk for pneumonia. He didn’t know the common symptoms. He didn’t know that many people with SCI have a weaker than normal immune system, and there are often fewer and milder symptoms of pneumonia for people with a weaker immune system. He also didn’t know people with a weaker immune system can have a lower than normal temperature with pneumonia. Jake also failed to tell the on-call nurse practitioner three important facts. He didn’t mention he had an SCI and lower than normal temperature, which might have clued the nurse that he had a weaker immune system. He also didn’t mention that he was having a harder time breathing, which might have clued the nurse to suspect a more Participate in UAB Research High Intensity Interval Training vs Moderate Intensity Training for improving health in individuals with SCI This study aims to discover whether low volume high intensity interval exercise training can improve cardiometabolic health, muscular strength, and overall quality life to a greater extent or comparable to moderate intensity exercise training. 24 START This 24 week project aims to determine if a low carb or a low fat diet is better for helping adults with a spinal cord injury stick to their diet, improve their body composition, and lower their cardiometabolic risk factors (such as diabetes, heart disease, or stroke). Criteria to Participate • Ages 21 -60 • C5-T12 levels of injury (AIS A, B, C, D) • 3 years post-injury Criteria to Participate • Have a SCI • Be between 21 and 60 years old • Have internet access and smartphone • Have a BMI between 25 and 55 • Is willing to try a new diet Participants will receive $125 for completing the study. Call 205-996-4114 or email SCIresearch@uab.edu for more information. Participants will earn up to $100. Go to website, call 205- 403-5510 or email SCIresearch@uab.edu for information. 2 uab.edu/sci