Having a Spinal Cord Injury and Regaining Independence

man in wheelchair smiling and raising his fist in success

A spinal cord injury is an often disabling medical condition caused by damage to the spinal cord or the nerves near the end of the spinal cord. Depending on the location of the injury on the spine, paralysis can occur in some if not all parts of the body. The higher the injury location on the spine, the more assistance a person most likely will need.

Becoming disabled after a spinal cord injury can truly be devastating. However, many individuals – even with high levels of paralysis, such as quadriplegics, go on to be extremely successful and productive members of society. Many also have relationships, including marriage and children.

Managing Life at Home After a Spinal Cord Injury

The biggest concern for anyone who has a spinal cord injury is how they will manage it. This thought happens most often in the early stages of their recovery. When I had my spinal cord injury, I couldn’t do much for myself either. After having a back fusion surgery where rods were surgically placed all the way down my spine, I had to wear a TSO cast that encased my entire upper torso. It gave time for the rods to fuse with my spine. During this time, I was under many restrictions, such as when I wasn’t wearing it, I had to remain in bed and could not even turn myself. After twelve weeks, I was completely free from wearing this cast, but I still couldn’t lift more than five pounds.

As much as I appreciated all this attention to detail, my biggest concern was that I had infant children. My youngest was a newborn who had never been less than five pounds. So, I had no choice but to hire help. It was the only way I was going to have any chance of working on myself. I hired a nanny to live with me to take care of the baby at night. During the day, they went to daycare.

I was in a rental wheelchair when I went home from rehab. I was also sleeping in a hospital bed until the orthopedic surgeon felt it was safe for me to sleep in my own bed. Before I had left rehab, I had hired a home health aid. She wasn’t trained in personal care, such as bladder and bowel incontinence, but she was willing to learn, so the rehab facility taught her. She helped me shower, take care of my bathroom needs at home, dressed me, and helped me into my wheelchair. Once I was in the wheelchair, I was at least mobile.

Then, I learned to drive. I received assistance from DARS, now known as Texas Workforce. They helped pay for the hand controls installed in my car and the lessons to learn how to drive a modified vehicle.

Going Back to Work After a Spinal Cord Injury

woman in a wheelchair working on a computerLater on, when I chose to go back to college, Texas Workforce helped pay for courses and books that I needed. When I got further education to write for teenagers and children, they continued to help me achieve my ultimate goal to be a full-time writer. I chose to work from home, so with their help, I had my office set up with adaptive equipment, including an ‘uplift desk.’ There was no excuse for me to not be productive, so I went to work.

Going back to work after my spinal cord injury was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself, along with learning to drive. The sense of independence I felt was heaven sent. Within months, my confidence as a writer grew. With continuous physical therapy, I also gained upper body strength to take care of my own needs.

I wasn’t shy about seeking psychological help either. I was grieving the loss of my legs and how my spinal cord injury affected my life after that. Everything changed for me, and I could either sink or swim.

Regaining Independence After My Spinal Cord Injury

After my youngest reached four years old, I let go of the nanny. That had been one of the many goals I had set for myself. So from that point on, I was taking care of my two children alone.

I’ve always said that life is about choices, but my thought process became warped when I had my injury. Eventually, I gained hope, which ultimately gave me the strength to keep moving forward. I went on to marry again and have another child. Through all of this, I have learned I needed no help this time around caring for my third child.

What I Learned on My Journey to Independence

group with disabilities from spinal cord injury sharing a beer and playing gamesWhat I have learned the most throughout my self-discovery journey is that there are some really nice people in the world. One of them I married, and the others are my closest friends. I also found that the more I do, the more respect I gain from those who don’t quite understand my disability from my spinal cord injury. However, what they see is a self-sufficient, strong, confident mother of three who happens to be in a wheelchair.

If you or someone you care for has a disability due to a spinal cord injury or any other medical condition, some of the mobility and adaptive equipment and incontinence products we carry may help in everyday life. For more resources, help to find support, and to read other’s stories, the United Spinal Association is a great place to start.

If you have any questions or need more information on the home delivery medical supplies we offer, our Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist.

About the Author

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

On January 23, 2000, Meena suffered a spinal cord injury that left her a T12 paraplegic. She worked hard to grow and push past adversity and challenges and even went back to school for a four-year diploma in writing for teenagers and children.

Popular Mobility & Adaptive Equipment

Carex Ultra Grabber Reaching Aid

Item #RMP60600 Carex grabber reacher

Carex Bath Transfer Bench

Item #FGB153000000 Carex bath transfer bench

CanDo Magneciser Pedal Exerciser

Item #01-8030 pedal exerciser

Drive White Steel Bathtub Grab Bar

Item #RTL12036 ADJ drive steel bathtub grab bar
Personally Delivered- home

Top 10 Incontinence Products for Seniors

Top 10 incontinence products for seniors with an elderly man grinning at a woman on a swing

According to research, more than 50% of elderly Americans suffer from incontinence, whether it be bladder or bowel related. Incontinence is not only a physical medical condition; it can also affect people mentally, emotionally, and financially. The cost of incontinence products for seniors can add up, and you could be caught off guard if you aren’t prepared.

We have compiled a list of what we think are the ten most useful incontinence products for seniors. Consider some or all of these incontinence supplies the next time you shop for yourself or a loved one to keep ample inventory levels on hand.

1. Briefs/Diapers

Attends Premier Briefs in a bag available in sizes medium to extra largeBecause briefs or diapers can be changed without removing all clothing articles, they are a preferred choice by many seniors. Briefs are for those needing a more secure and absorbent option and sometimes referred to as adult diapers. These one-piece incontinence garments feature re-fastenable tabs that make readjustment easy for a tight fit. Incontinence briefs also come in daytime or nighttime absorbencies depending on what level is needed. The Attends Premier Brief is an excellent incontinence product for seniors that offers both daytime and overnight protection.

2. Protective Underwear or Pull-Ups

Protective briefs or pull-ups are one-piece garments made to be easily pulled on and off and are an excellent incontinence product for seniors that are looking for more traditional and discreet protection. Offered in absorbencies for both day and night protection, protective underwear also provides odor control and moisture-wicking to remain comfortable and dry.

3. Underpads/Bed Pads/Chux

Available in various colors, materials, designs, and absorbency levels, underpads, bed pads, or chux, provide the extra protection needed to absorb leakage, reduce odors, and control bacteria. Instead of doubling up on protective underwear and mattress covers, an underpad can deliver the required absorbency on its own. Underpads can also be used to protect furniture, car seats, and even as pet potty training pads.

4. Liners/Pads

Incontinence pads and liners in a collageLiners, panty liners, or pads are placed inside regular underwear with their adhesive strip and are used for light to moderate urinary incontinence. Liners and pads are an economical incontinence product for seniors that do not have heavy leakage. On the other hand, booster pads are added to a disposable brief for an added layer of protection for those with moderate to heavy incontinence.

5. Fecal Pads

Fecal incontinence padsThe Butterfly Body Patch by Attends is an excellent fecal incontinence pad or bowel incontinence pads are designed for those who suffer from Accidental Bowel Leakage (ABL) and are looking for a bowel leakage product that absorbs fluids and odors while being discreet. Many people are unaware of such a product and resort to using a regular bladder pad for bowel incontinence protection. Those with fecal incontinence require a disposable bowel leakage product, as the use of washable products is not an option. Fecal or bowel incontinence pads such as the Butterfly Body Patch, are specifically shaped to fit in and around the buttocks and are designed to absorb liquids and hold the stool in place. These bowel incontinence products are not as absorbent as traditional incontinence pads, so they hold less fluid.

6. Mattress Cover

Using a mattress cover is another incontinence product for seniors that protects the mattress from incontinence leaks, accidental spills, and unwanted stains. Mattress covers such as the Salk Prima Vinyl Mattress Cover, fit just like a fitted bed sheet, covering the entire mattress, and can also protect against bacteria and some allergens. Mattress protectors may also defend against bacteria and some allergens. Because mattress covers are made of water-resistant materials, they extend the mattress’s life. This handy feature can also protect your health. When fluids enter the mattresses core, bacteria breeds, and dust mites thrive in these warm, damp environments. Investing in a quality mattress cover as one of the top incontinence products for seniors can be beneficial for many reasons.

7. Skin Care

The entire area of the body covered by an incontinence product is at risk for skin irritation. If the skin has become wet or chaffed, the incontinence product either incorrectly fits the wearer or is not the right absorbency. With effective skin moisturizers, creams, and ointments, the sensitive perineal skin can stay healthy and clean.

8. Personal Care Wipes

Item# 325521 Aloe Vesta Bathing Cloths in a pouch are perfect as a no-rinse cleansing optionWith all the personal hygiene products available, personal care wipes are the most convenient incontinence product for seniors. Using personal care wipes is not only a quicker and easier option than paper towels or cloths; they are also the most versatile cleaning product around. Wipes are compact enough for travel and an inexpensive way to keep yourself and the surfaces around you clean throughout the day.  When there isn’t a water source available, using personal care wipes can be used to quickly remove dirt and germs from the hands and face as well as a toilet paper alternative.

9. Penis Clamp

As men age, they may experience difficulty controlling their urinary leakage when lifting, coughing, or straining. They may also have leakage or dribbling of urine due to other urinary problems such as prostate cancer. A penis clamp is an incontinence product for seniors that puts light pressure on the urethra and helps control urine leaking. They are a cost-effective way to help manage stress incontinence in men and worth having around for convenience and travel.

10. Adult Swim Brief

In the summer months, enjoying the pool can be difficult for those that suffer from incontinence.  With adult swim briefs such as the Swimmates Adult Reusable Diapers, pool-time can be worry-free. These snug-fitting, stretchy, and lightweight incontinence briefs are made specifically to fit underneath a swimsuit. Adult swim briefs are also machine washable and reusable, so they are budget-friendly when choosing this kind of incontinence product for seniors.

Stocking up on the essential incontinence products for seniors is important when managing an incontinence condition. Not being prepared with the necessary incontinence supplies when you need them, most can be frustrating. You can rest easy with a little preparation, knowing that you don’t need to run out in an emergency to get the incontinence supplies you need.

For any questions about the incontinence products we carry, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist. Being prepared never felt so good!

Related Incontinence Products

Prevail Air Heavy Absorbency Briefs

Prevail Air Briefs in a bag are a heavy absorbency option as an incontinence product for seniors available in sizes small to large

Personally Delivered Overnight Protective Underwear

Personally Delivered Overnight Protective Underwear in a bag are an excellent incontinence product for seniors for nighttime protection you can trust

Cardinal Health Quilted Premium MVP Underpads, Wings

Cardinal Health Quilted Premium MVP Underpads keep the skin and the bed dry as they keep you comfortable

Hollister Extended-Wear Self-Adhesive Male External Catheter

The Hollister Extended-Wear Self-Adhesive Male External Catheter is easy to apply and safely controls the flow of urine
Personally Delivered home
Superb product and good price, too. Love the convenience of having the products delivered to my home.

Joan B.

Wahpeton, ND
Very courteous representatives and always ahead of my phone calls for upcoming orders.

Istvan N.

Toms River, NJ
The people at Personally Delivered have always been very friendly and helpful. They make it comfortable and easy to order my supplies.

Ed R.

Peoria, AZ
Products are of high quality. People are very friendly and considerate. Very polite and personable. Excellent to deal with!

Daniel S.

Glen Rock, PA
Customer Service is the BEST! Your reps really care and are always finding ways to make things as easy as possible!

James S.

Cumberland, MD