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Spinal cord injuries can lead to urinary tract infections

Spinal cord injuries are a type of injury that can affect every aspect of a person's life. For some people who have a spinal cord injury, bladder problems are sometimes a side effect. Some patients, however, face a unique problem when it comes to seeking out help because of a spinal cord injury.

In some cases, people with spinal cord injuries have to travel long distances and may have to spend hours trying to get ready to go to the appointment. For those people, telehealth intervention might be an answer to the problem.

Telehealth intervention allows the patient to consult with a physician from home. This could help patients to have the benefit of preventing secondary infections, such as urinary tract infections. Preventing urinary tract infections could mean fewer visits to the hospital and less costs for the Canadian health care system.

In a study, some patients participated in a telehealth video conference weekly. Some of these patients had a Near Infrared Spectroscopy taped to the skin over the bladder to monitor the oxygenation and blood flow to the bladder. This could potentially help people with spinal cord injuries to have urinary tract infections diagnosed before they become life-threatening.

Urinary tract infections can seriously affect the patient's life. In some cases, these infections can land the patient in the emergency room. One survey indicated that one of the most common reasons for re-hospitalization after a spinal cord injury is urinary tract infections. Around 57 percent of people with a traumatic spinal cord injury reported having a urinary tract infection within the 12 months prior to the survey.

Source: Rick Hansen Institute, "Detecting bladder problems early," accessed April. 16, 2015

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