Raising Awareness for Men’s Health Week: Wheelchair Edition
 
 
- OR -

Raising Awareness for Men’s Health Week: Wheelchair Edition

men

Men nationwide are celebrating National Men’s Health Week June 13 through 19 by engaging in healthy activities, visiting their doctors and informing themselves of the various dangers that could inhibit their well–being.

Male wheelchairs users are at risk for all typical health issues that concern able–bodied men but also have to be wary of potential wheelchair–specific risks.

The National Men’s Health Month organization started in 1994 with the goal to “heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” They established this movement to encourage men to analyze current lifestyle conditions, and then determine what can be done to live a healthier, more satisfying life. And with the help of a wheelchair accessible van, male wheelchair users are one drive away from a plethora of health benefits.

Get Tested

Regular checkups and screenings are prevention tactics that both able-bodied and wheelchair-using males should implement. Info provided by Men’s Health Network. To learn more about each type of screening, click here.

      1. Physical Exam:every three years starting at age 20, two years at 40 and annually at 50.
      2. Blood Pressure: annually starting at age 20.
      3. TB Skin Tests: every five years starting at age 20.
      4. Blood Tests and Urinalysis: every three years starting at age 20, two years at 40 and annually at 50.
      5. Electrocardiogram Screening (EKG): when appropriate starting at age 30, every two years at 40 and annually at 50.
      6. Tetanus Booster: every 10 years starting at age 20.
      7. Rectal Exam: annually starting at age 20.
      8. PSA Blood Test: As decided by you and your physician.
      9. Hemoccult: Annually starting at age 40.
      10. Colorectal Health: every three to four years starting at age 50.
      11. Chest X-Ray: as decided by you and your physician starting at age 40.
      12. Self-Exam:check testicles, skin and mouth monthly starting at age 20.
      13. Bone Mineral Density Test: as decided by you and your physician starting at age 60.
      14. Testosterone Screening:as decided by you and your physician starting at age 40.
      15. Sexually Transmitted Disease: as decided by you and your physician starting at age 20, or at first sexual activity.

Understand Wheelchair–specific Health Risk: Prevention & Treatment Options

Wheelchair users often lead more sedentary lifestyles than able bodies and are at higher risk for certain health problems. The following information has been provided by doctors David G. Armstrong, founder of the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, and Stanford Ho, MD at Arizona State University.

Leg Swelling

Leg swelling occurs when there is too much bodily fluid accumulating in one area. The treatment options include:

        • Compression Stockings tightly, but gently, hug the leg and apply pressure to force blood up and out of the legs.
        • Edema Pumps, like compression stockings, pump blood upward out of the legs.
        • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD): is a massage therapy often recommended and performed by physical therapists or physiatrists, Dr. Armstrong says, in which external force is used to increase blood circulation.

Skin Ulcers / Pressure Sores

Skin ulcers and pressure sores happen when pressure is applied to the skin for too long. Dr. Ho recommends:

        • When and if possible, wheelchair users should stand or shift positions as often as possible to alleviate pressure in one area, Dr. Ho says.
        • Maintain appropriate exercise as discussed with a doctor or specialist.
        • Bowel and bladder hygiene and remaining dry is a crucial component to avoiding pressure sores, especially for those paralyzed in lower extremities. Sweat, urine or other liquids often lead to infection.

Poor Blood Flow

Poor blood flow is common for people with sedentary lifestyles or obesity and often causes swelling, pressure sores, blood clots and more.

        •  Apply any of the aforementioned strategies to combatting skin ulcers and leg swelling to help increase blood circulation.

Blood Clots / Deep Venous Thrombosis

These dangerous ailments occur when blood pools in one area and is not pumped to the necessary destination.

Arteries transport oxygenated blood from the heart and lungs to the rest of the body, and veins pump blood from the body back to the heart. Aging, weight gain and lack of movement can make veins “lazy,” Dr. Armstrong says. Veins will essentially quit, causing the blood to clump together and block pathways.

        • Apply leg swelling prevention methods to combat blood clots.
        • Speak with physician or specialist if pain or discoloration occur and/or intensify.

Obesity

This common illness is determined by BMI (body mass index is a body fat to height ratio), is common amongst wheelchair users and can be caused by lack of healthy diet and exercise, medical conditions and more. Doctors or dieticians can help patients determine the cause of obesity, some of which might include: metabolic conditions (thyroid, for example), medication side effects, or lack of healthy diet or exercise; expert can then help patient devise a plan to get back to a healthy BMI.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Regardless of gender or disability, all people should abide by the following tips to improve their health:

      • Maintain regular sleep schedule, usually seven to eight hours nightly for most individuals.
      • Avoid smoking of any kind and avoid recreational substances.
      • Drink in moderation (if of legal age) and avoid binge drinking .
      • Maintain regular physical activity/exercise as appropriate for the individual. Mobility vans or wheelchair lifts and accessories are useful tools people with disabilities can use to transport to local gyms or exercise facilities.
      • Maintain good social supports, including family and friends.
      • Always practice safe sex (condoms, dental dams, etc.) and obtain regular sexually transmitted infection screening (STI), especially if change in partners occurs.