Up to 62% of individuals who have a spinal cord injury have problems with bowel movement. In 61% of children who have spina bifida, it took longer for the food to get from the mouth to the rectum in the form of waste. Chronic constipation occurs in 74% of those with cerebral palsy. People who have neurological diagnoses tend to be affected by neurogenic bowel.  This happens when the nerve function between the brain and bowel is interrupted. Reflex bowel usually occurs when there is nerve tissue damage above the lumbar spine. In these cases, feeling a full bowel is diminished.

Impaired Bowel Functions

As a result, the bowel empties itself reflexively at any given time if it is convenient or not. When the neurological function is impaired below the lumbar area the result can be flaccid bowel. In this situation the sphincter stays relaxed and bowel contents might leak at any time. Managed bowel programs can help to relieve these problems. When going to the bathroom takes place at regular intervals, this will minimize unexpected bowel movements.

Slowing the Process Down

The nerves that help with the rhythmic contractions (peristalsis) which force the stomach contents through the intestines could be affected as well. The result is that the contents move much slower through the gastrointestinal system. If waste spends more time in the large intestine, the body has more time to absorb fluid resulting in harder stool and eventually to constipation. Having a higher quality of life in work and social functions is linked with satisfactory bowel movements and standing plays a vital part in helping gastrointestinal functions. Multiple studies indicate that participants have improved bowel movements as a benefit of a regular standing program. Gravity The body is designed for waste to move downward and out. Standing upright helps to move this process along. Space Standing upright generates more space for internal organs to operate in the abdomen and chest. When there is more room to move through the required turns and twists, digestion improves. Internal Pressure The strength of the abdominal muscles along with the ability to generate voluntary abdominal pressure which helps with the elimination process can be severely impacted by neurological impairments. Strong thick bands of fibrous connective tissue help with the abdominal wall mechanical stability. Standing causes these fibers to be tauter than when sitting. Movement Even though abdominal strength might be reduced or if peristalsis is affected, simply moving the body will also get the gastrointestinal system moving. The bowel functions improve more when dynamic activities are added while standing.  

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