University of Southern California Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Odel got a spinal cord injury in 1983, when he was 28 years old. He was injured when he fell from a tree he was trimming. Odel got his first pressure ulcer (which is what a doctor or nurse calls a pressure sore or bedsore) when he was in the hospital after his injury. It healed after he rested the skin, but it made Odel worry. With his mother's help, he checked his skin at least twice a day. After ten years of being depressed, Odel was shown how to paint. He enrolled in college. Odel got pressure ulcers on his feet from wearing shoes he liked, but which were not comfortable. His doctor told Odel to rest in bed, and Odel changed the shoes.

Read more about Odel in these articles...

Odel checked his skin every day. Odel's father got cancer. He was dying. Odel got a pressure ulcer. Odel said the stress caused the pressure ulcer.

→ read more in Life Events

Rubbing can happen when you rub the same spot on your skin a lot.

Odel had a favorite pair of shoes. The shoes didn't have pads around the top. The shoes rubbed Odel's feet every day.

Odel had spasms (SPAZ-ums), or shakes, in his legs at night. Sometimes spasms can help someone with a spinal cord injury. Sometimes they can help their body move about, and relieve pressure. But these spasms made Odel's heel rub his sheets.

These two kinds of rubbing gave Odel a pressure ulcer.

→ read more in What Causes Pressure Ulcers: Injury and Rubbing, Things to Do to Take Care of Your Skin and Things You Can't Control

It can be hard to remember to be careful and do enough pressure reliefs when you are having fun. Odel spent the day with his nephew enjoying a football game. That night, Odel found a pressure ulcer when he checked his skin.

→ read more in Don't Overdo It

Odel's advice about keeping busy without overdoing it:

"Don't just sit around; stay active, do things, but do positive things. So that's why I do my daily activity and look forward to going to school. I look for positive to do. You know, if there is something out there you can do of if you can be creative about doing something, just think positive and go do it. Whatever you want to do, there is something out there or someplace to go for you to achieve what you want to do. You might not know which door to go through, so you knock on all of them and one of them will open up for you. So that's what I do."

→ read more in Don't Overdo It

Alma, Helen and Odel all paint.

Ken and Odel take classes.

→ read more in Don't Overdo It

People who are depressed sometimes stay away from their family and friends. Your family and friends can help you to check your skin, like Odel's mother did. When you stay away from your friends and family, they can't help you take care of your skin.

→ read more in Depression

When Odel's father was sick with cancer, Odel went to church with him. This helped Odel feel closer to his father.

→ read more in Faith

Odel liked art. He took classes in how to program a computer. He learned how to make pictures on a computer. Odel also learned how to paint with a mouthstick. He decided that using the mouthstick was the most fun. He was still glad he learned how to use a computer. He said he could use these skills at a job. This is what Odel said about learning to paint with a mouthstick:

"I'm going to conquer it, you know. This day, I'm going to do it, no matter how long it takes or how upset I get trying to get it. I'm going to get it right, you know. And I won't be satisfied until it's done right. Yep!"

Odel has a lot of optimism!

→ read more in Feelings, Attitude and Believing in Yourself

Odel's doctors taught him about skin care. They told Odel to take pressure off his skin each 15 minutes. (That is 4 times an hour.) That was a long time ago. Now Odel is stronger. His skin is stronger. It is called sitting tolerance when you can sit longer. Odel has a strong sense when he needs to take pressure off his skin. Now Odel takes pressure off his skin about one time each hour. It is when his body tells Odel it is time to take pressure off. Odel is more careful than people who don't watch the time. He is more careful than people who don't listen to their body.

→ read more in Listening to Your Body

Odel said he learned to take pressure off his skin every 15 minutes. He wondered if that was the right time. He and his mother looked at his skin very carefully during the day. Odel talked to his doctors. He found out that taking pressure off his skin every hour was better for him.

Helen, Ken and Odel said they listened to their bodies. They said they could tell when it was time to take pressure off their skin.

→ read more in Now I Get It!

You need to "get it" to prevent pressure ulcers. You need to see it is important, you need to do it your own way, and you need to listen to your body. Odel gets it. Here is what he said about preventing pressure ulcers:

"Sometime you can't go by the book. You've got to listen to your own body. So, I mean, it is good what they are talking about, but then, gradually, like I said, you are going to write your own book and go by your own rules...because it is not in the book on how the person is feeling and what they can tolerate."

You will also be able to prevent pressure ulcers when you say, "Now I get it!"

→ read more in Now I Get It!

Odel checks his skin two times every day. He checks when he gets up in the morning. He checks when he goes to bed at night.

→ read more in Things to Do to Take Care of Your Skin

Friends and family can help you take care of your health. Odel's mother helps him check his skin.

→ read more in Friends and Family