Bowel Dysfunction Equals a Need for Increased Dietary Fiber
A common secondary condition occuring in people with various disabilities is constipation. Persons with a spinal cord injury may experience loss or impaired voluntary control of bowels, making it difficult to have regular bowel movements. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, about 60% of people with multiple sclerosis experience symptoms of bowel dysfunction. Constipation also affects adults with diabetes mellitus, cerebrovascular events, Parkinson's disease, and Hischsprung's disease (a rare congenital abnormality with intestine dysfunction). Children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and Chaga's disease (insect-transmitted parasitic disease resulting in digestive abnormalities and possibly malnutrition) also may experience chronic constipation.
Dietary fiber intake for persons with or without disabilities, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, should range from 25 to 35 grams per day, but there are instances where additional fiber may be needed. A person with a certain kind of disability that experiences constipation may want to examine his or her daily schedule and determine if he or she is 1) doing enough physical activity, 2) drinking enough fluids, and 3) eating a high-fiber diet.