Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections in Persons with Spinal Cord Injury in Home Health Care

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More than 250,000 persons in the United States live with spinal cord injury (SCI), and 10,000 to 12,000 new injuries occur each year. Of these spinal cord injured persons, 53% have tetraplegia, 46% have paraplegia, and less than 1% experience complete neurologic recovery. About 48% have complete injuries (i.e., full quadriplegia) and 52% have incomplete injuries (Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine, 2006; National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 2008). Almost all persons with neurologic impairment related to SCI have voiding dysfunction. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) have long been problematic for those living with SCI. Once the leading cause of death, urinary complications remain the leading cause of morbidity and the most common infection in persons with SCI (Rehabilitation Research and Training Center [RRTC] on Spinal Cord Injury, 2008). This article provides a brief overview of spinal cord injuries and the effect of SCI on the urinary system. Factors that increase the risk for UTI will also be described.

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