Hesperian Health Guides

Self Care

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 23: Spinal Cord Injury > Self Care


With help and encouragement of family, friends and rehabilitation workers, the child with spinal cord injury can learn to become as independent as possible in meeting his basic needs: moving about, eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and in time other skills for daily living.

Progress toward self-care, especially at first, may be slow and frustrating. The child will need a lot of understanding and encouragement. Persons with low spinal cord injury will find it easier to relearn self-care skills than those with higher injuries who have less use of their hands and arms. Quadriplegics usually will remain at least partly dependent on others for some of their daily activities. To make activities easier both for themselves and their helper, it is important that they avoid getting fat.

Useful methods and techniques have been worked out for helping relearn basic skills. We cannot describe many of these in detail. However, much depends on determination, imagination, and common sense. Start with first things first—like rolling over and sitting up in bed.

A few simple aids can often help a person become more independent. For example,
a list of aids to be more independent
loose-fitting clothing with elastic or easy-to-do fastener (for example, a brassiere that fastens in front)
convertible wheelchair toilet
homemade bed, the same height as wheelchair and toilet
a rope with a loop for pulling to sit

When hands are affected, devices like these (or others that you can invent) make relearning to eat and write easier.

a spoon with Velcro band
DVC Ch23 Page 189-3.png
a pencil with metal tube
DVC Ch23 Page 189-5.png
‘Velcro’ sticks-to-itself tape makes it possible for the person to put on aids by herself. metal tube soldered to a piece that fits into hand band.

For additional ideas of aids for self-care, see Chapter 62. Suggestions for getting in and out of wheelchairs and learning to walk with crutches are included in Chapter 43.


This page was updated:21 Nov 2019