By: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate


Quality of life factors for patients with spinal cord injuries

SFU biomedical physiology and kinesiology professor Victoria Claydon specializes in cardiovascular physiology, and was involved in conducting an international study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma studying actionable steps to improve the quality of life of patients with spinal cord injuries. Data was collected from almost 300 participants with spinal cord injuries around the mid-chest level.

Claydon found that those with spinal cord injuries ranked bowel care as the most pressing concern, followed by sexual function, bladder function, and pain. Wheelchair mobility ranked surprisingly low on the list.

Claydon rationalizes that those with spinal cord injury can damage their autonomic nervous system (ANS) which governs internal body functions such as bowel, bladder, and sexual function. Normally, the ANS would help in situations when the bladder or bowel is full, which results in increased blood pressure, by sending signals from the brain to reduce the blood pressure. However, a damaged ANS may have difficulty performing this function, allowing the blood pressure remain high until the bowel or bladder is emptied, which is turn could lead to irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks, seizures, or death.

Participants also described how bowel care affected their social relationships, prevented them from going out, and took a significant portion of time to manage (up to a quarter of the patients spent more than hour on their bowel care). Many participants even dehydrated themselves to help ease the burden.

Claydon acknowledged that curing spinal cord disease is not a reality yet, but believes that research could help find holistic solutions to help improve quality of life for those affected by spinal cord injury.


High medication costs force Canadians to cut back on necessities spending

A nationwide investigation ran jointly by University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, McMaster University, and University of Toronto researchers have found out that, in 2016, almost one million Canadians cut spending on groceries and heat to fund prescription drugs.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, involved surveys from 28,000 people and showed that paying for medication forced 968,000 Canadians cut spending on necessities such as food and heat.

Around 1.7 million Canadians (8.2%) that were prescribed medication in 2016 did not fill in prescriptions due to cost. Quebec had the lowest percentage (3.7%) of people avoiding filling their costly prescriptions while BC had the highest (8.11%) due to increased living cost and deductibles for drugs. The most common medications not bought due to cost were for mental health issues.

A side effect of Canadians not filling in prescriptions is higher healthcare cost: 93,000 people went to emergency rooms and 300,000 saw a doctor as a consequence of neglecting to fill out and take their prescribed medication.

The survey results concluded that the population of respondents who had difficulty filling in prescriptions, and also who needed more care, commonly included young adults, lower-income earners, and those without drug insurance. Women were part of this group as they might take more medication than men, such as contraceptives, and have a lower average salary.

With files from Global News.