Everyone has individual nutritional needs, and it is common for our patients to lose weight when they are first injured due to loss in muscle mass and being on bed rest. The aim of dietetic treatment at this stage is to ensure that lack of nutrition does not contribute to this loss.

A dedicated specialist dietitian works closely with our wards and medical staff at the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre and is responsible for monitoring and supporting the nutritional needs of all patients being cared for on our unit.
Our specialist dietitian will:

  • Work with you to develop a suitable individual nutritional plan and make sure your individual nutritional needs are met
  • Calculate what your individual nutritional needs are
  • Help identify patients who most likely require additional assistance in meeting their nutritional requirements so that advice can be given on the options available that can best meet your nutritional needs.
  • Link with our in-house catering department to determine the most optimally nutritional meals that we can provide to you that best meet your complex medical needs. 

All our patients are weighed once a week to make sure any weight change is within normal ranges.

What sort of treatment might be suggested during my acute care?
It is common for our patients to not feel like eating when they are first injured and admitted to hospital. If you are struggling to eat our dietitian will discuss your food preferences with you and what options are available to help improve your intake. You may not be able to eat enough food to get everything you need. You may need additional supplementary products. If you are thought to be at risk of having an inadequate swallow then a speech and language therapist will be asked to undertake a review to formally assess your swallow reflex. A nasogastric tube (a very thin tube that is passed via the nose into the stomach through which a liquid feed is given) may be inserted to help need your nutritional needs. Your dietitian will advise on the most suitable feed.

During rehabilitation:
Once the rehabilitation programme is under way, it is common for your appetite to increases. Although you may have a lost a considerable amount of weight, the aim may not be to put all the weight back on. Due to your changing body composition your ideal body weight is likely to be lower than it was prior to your SCI due to the loss of muscle mass below the level of injury.

During these times it may be necessary to reduce the amount of high fat, high sugary foods you consume to prevent excessive weight gain.  If required, our dietitian will talk through your individual needs with you.
We will also talk to you if you are struggling to meet your nutritional needs so that your individual requirements can be met.
You will continue to be weighed on weekly basis so that our expert team can continue to monitor any changes and provide the most appropriate advice.

Group education sessions
Group education sessions are provided by the dietitian. During these sessions patients receive information on what constitutes a balanced healthy diet, how dietary intake affects bowel management and nutritional aspects of preventing and healing pressure ulcers.
If you feel that there is an ongoing dietary issue and you need more support after discharge from hospital then the dietitian will normally arrange for this to occur near to the patient’s own home by referring them to their local dietetic department.

Pressure ulcers repair
If you are admitted to the Spinal Injuries Centre with a pressure ulcer, our dietitian may advise on a high protein diet to ensure that you have all the nutrients you need to help the pressure ulcer to heal. This will either be achieved with using food preferences or may require the additional use of nutritional supplements. The Dietitian will also advise and a suitably balanced diet to ensure all nutrients are provided to help promote the healing of your pressure ulcer.

Bowel management
Bowel management is affected by diet. When required, the dietitian can review your dietary intake to advise on suitable changes you need to make. This may include looking at your dietary fibre intake but also any food items that are overstimulating the bowel.

If you are admitted for urology or bowel surgery, you may require additional support post-surgery. The dietitian will discuss an individual nutritional plan with you if required to ensure that your nutritional requirements are met as soon as possible after surgery.

Patient information leaflet - Healthy eating following spinal cord injury

Contact details:
Carolyn Taylor - Specialist Dietitian
0114 2714162