Objective: To evaluate the beneficial effects of application of a self-designed reciprocating gait orthosis (RGO) combined with comprehensive rehabilitation training on bladder and bowel function in paraplegic patients sustaining spinal cord injuries (SCI).
Methods: Twelve paraplegic patients with complete spinal cord injury at the levels between T(4) and L(1) received the RGO with a comprehensive rehabilitation exercise program carried out before and after fixing. Cold water and colon excretion tests were performed before and 3 months after application of the RGO, and the bladder volume, residue bladder volume, and bladder and bowel pressures were measured in these patients.
Results: The 12 paraplegic patients all showed positive results in cold water test before and after RGO application. Before RGO application, 11 of these patients were positive for urine bacteria and only 1 patient was still positive 3 months after the application. The bladder volume and bowel pressure of the patients were significantly increased (P<0.05), while the residue volume and pressure of the bladder were significantly reduced 3 months after RGO application (P<0.05).
Conclusion: RGO combined with comprehensive rehabilitation training can effectively improve the bladder and bowel function and the quality of life of patients with complete spinal cord injury, suggesting much clinical value for its extensive application.