Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 33 | Number 2 | Page 2
Urinary Tract Infections and Spinal Cord Injury by Phil Klebine
If you have a spinal cord injury
(SCI), you are likely at higher risk
for urinary tract infection (UTI). In
fact, it is one of the most common
secondary medical issues after SCI.
What causes UTI?
A UTI usually occurs when bacteria
enter the bladder through the
urethra. The bacteria multiply in the
bladder and grow into an infection.
Why is UTI common after SCI?
There are two main reasons people
with SCI are at high risk for UTI.
1. Most methods of bladder
management make it easier for
bacteria to enter the bladder
through the urethra.
2. Once in the bladder, it is
hard to get rid of the bacteria
because most people cannot
fully empty their bladder during
bladder management. This is
why bacteria are almost always
found in the bladder and why
it is easier for the bacteria to
quickly multiply in the bladder
and cause the infection.
Can UTI be prevented?
You may not be able to totally
prevent all occurrences of UTI, but
you can reduce your risk by using a
few common sense techniques.
Stay properly hydrated
Hydration is the amount of water
you need to keep your body healthy.
Here are only a few of the important
health benefits for people with SCI.
• Helps flush out bacteria from
• Helps maintain body
• Helps ease the flow of stool
through the bowel
• Helps keep the skin moist,
supple and healthy
Your body absorbs some water
from the foods you eat, but the
liquids you drink are your body’s
main source of water. This is why you
should drink water most of the time
and limit drinks with sugar, caffeine,
and alcohol because they act to get
rid of water in your body.
So how much water do you need?
You get dehydrated when drinking
too little water, and your body does
not have enough for optimal health.
Your sodium level drops dangerously
low (hyponatremia) when drinking
too much water.
It is often suggested that you
need about eight cups (64 ounces)
of water per day. It is one of those
“best guesses” to give you some
idea of how much water is needed to
stay hydrated. In reality, though, the
“ideal” amount of water intake varies
greatly from person to person.
Instead of guessing how much
water you need, the color of your
urine can usually give you a good
idea of whether or not your body is
properly hydrated. Ideally, your urine
needs to be golden yellow most of
the time. If it is on the clear side, you
probably need to drink a little less
water. You probably need more water
if the color gets darker. Here is a
color chart to help guide you.
An increase in water intake is also
likely to increase your urine output,
so you may need to talk to your
health professional about making
adjustments in bladder management.
The reason is you want to prevent
your bladder from becoming overdistended because it is too full.
This can damage the lining of the
bladder, which increases your risk for
Participate in Research at UAB
Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery and Postpartum
Outcomes of women with and without a SCI
This study aims to compare pregnancy, labor, delivery
and postpartum outcomes of women with and without
a spinal cord injury to better understand potential
difficulties women with SCI experience as well as their
educational and emotional support needs.
Criteria to Participate
• Women with SCI who are at least 1 year post-injury
• At least 19 years old
• Pregnant or have given birth within the last 3 years
Participants will receive up to $200. Go to website, call
205-934-3330 or email [email protected] for more
Personalized Online Weight and Exercise Response
System (POWERS): A Weight Loss Study for Adults
This study aims to determine how well a newly developed
web-based health coaching program helps adults with
SCI increase their physical activity and improve their diet.
Criteria to Participate
• Be at least 19 years old
• Have reliable internet access
• Have the ability to use your arms for exercise
• Visit the Lakeshore Foundation at the beginning and
end of the intervention
Go to website, call 205-403-5506 or email SCIresearch@
uab.edu for more information.