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Paul Paxton, Charles Edwards and Alison Goldney attended the 20th MASCIP (Multidisciplinary Association of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals) conference in Loughborough on 22 November.

The thought-provoking title of this year’s conference was “Below the Belt: bladder, bowel and sexual issues following spinal cord injury”. During the day, there were presentations from those personally affected by spinal cord injury (SCI) and specialist nurse practitioners regarding the challenges of obtaining specialist guidance on bladder and bowel management post SCI.

The recurring theme of the day was the lack of awareness in district general hospitals regarding neurogenic bladder and bowel management. We heard the devastating impact a lack of bowel management regime can have on an individual’s confidence and self-worth, as well as the dangers of autonomic dysreflexia.

Delegates were provided with draft guidelines prepared by MASCIP in relation to the management of neurogenic bowel management, which it is hoped will raise awareness and provide a uniformed approached to bowel management within the NHS.

The afternoon session began with a highly entertaining (if at times uncomfortable) presentation from Michelle Donald, psychosexual therapist, who highlighted the importance of SCI professionals providing a forum for patients to discuss sexual dysfunction following SCI. Many professionals are, understandably, embarrassed to raise this topic with patients, but Michelle tried to encourage the delegates to put their discomfort to one side and open up the conversation. Michelle explained that the lack of openness or discussion often leads to misconceptions about what is possible following a SCI.

The conference included the annual MASCIP poster presentations, which is an opportunity for professionals across the UK to discuss topics. This year, these included “Effects of virtual reality on balance and gait after SCI”, “Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression” and “Abdominal Functional Electrical Stimulation for bowel management in SCI”.

There were exhibitors, including Medstrom, who demonstrated the dolphin therapy mattress, which is a specialist product for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores. The mattress surrounds the patient with air and a high-tech algorithm adjusts the pressure on every part of the body. The technology provides pressure reduction adjustments every 11 seconds. This could be of real interest to our clients who have suffered pressure sores.

The conference was an excellent opportunity to keep up to date with the latest SCI topics, which are of relevance for many of our clients. It was also a good opportunity to network with SCI professionals.


MASCIP was established to provide a national professional forum to promote standards in clinical practice, foster research and encourage the development of health and social care services for people with spinal cord injuries.

MASCIP members include nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, doctors and case managers.

Find out more here.



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