Standing and Bowel Function in People with a Spinal Cord Injury


Associate Professor Lisa Harvey

University of Sydney


Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Northern Clinical School, Sydney School of Medicine, University of Sydney, PO Box 6, Ryde, NSW, 1680



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Public Title:
Does Standing Improve Bowel Function in People with Spinal Cord Injury? A Randomised Controlled Trial.


The majority of individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) have neurogenic bowel dysfunction. Severity of the condition is dependent upon the completeness and the level of lesion. Constipation and faecal incontinence are common problems experienced by individuals with SCI and have significant impact on their physical, social and psychological lives. People with SCI rate bowel care as one of the most disabling aspects of SCI and of more importance to them than the inability to walk. It is therefore appropriate that research attention be directed at improving bowel care.

People with SCI claim that regular standing improves bowel regularity and bowel function. However, there is no high quality evidence to substantiate these claims. A recent Cochrane review noted that there is still limited research on the management of neurogenic bowel dysfunction and it is not possible to draw any recommendation from the trials included in the review. It is important to determine whether regular standing is therapeutic because it is a costly and time consuming activity. Hence the primary aim of this study is to determine the benefits of regular standing on bowel function in people with spinal cord injury or lesion. The null hypothesis is that regular standing will have no effect on bowel function in people with spinal cord injury or lesion.
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