Bob VogelQ. Most long-time wheelchair users I know have had one or more hospitalizations, either for emergencies like severe urinary tract infections, or planned surgeries to deal with SCI-related issues like pain or orthopedic issues. Their stories make it sound like a hospital stay with SCI requires constantly being on guard to avoid additional complications like pressure sores, bladder and bowel problems, and non-accessible rooms. What should I plan for in case I need to be hospitalized?
— Nancy

A. The old saying, “A hospital is no place to be sick,” is doubly true with complexities that accompany neurological issues like SCI, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

According to Cat Davis, certified rehab registered nurse of the Craig Hospital SCI Nurse Advice Hotline, any long-term health issue puts a person at a higher risk of hospitalization. “Awareness of this fact and paying close attention to your health on a daily basis to try and avoid hospitalization is the best defense,” she says.

Since emergency hospitalization can strike at any time, planning ahead is the most important thing you can do to avoid secondary complications. Here are some strategies you can use: