Document Type

Handbook, Guide or Manual (Third Edition)

Publication Date (Third Edition)




Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) changes the way your body works, especially your bowels. After a spinal cord injury, bowel movements (or stool) require more time, thought and planning. Usually, people with SCI cannot feel when stool is ready to come out; therefore, their bowels need re-training.


What Is the Bowel, and What Does It Do?

The bowel is the last portion of your digestive tract and is sometimes called the large intestine or colon. The digestive tract as a whole is a hollow tube that extends from the mouth to the anus (see illustration below). The function of the digestive system is to take food into the body, provide it with nutrients and get rid of waste. The bowel is where the waste products of eating are stored until they are emptied from the body in the form of a bowel movement (stool, feces). A bowel movement happens when the rectum (last portion of the bowel) becomes full of stool and the muscle around the anus (anal sphincter) opens.

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