What I need from a catheter as a parathlete

As a professional wheelchair tennis player, 32-year-old Austrian Tina Pesendorfer travels a lot. With a busy training and tournament schedule, the No. 53 in the world needs total focus in training and matches. Fortunately, catheterizing no longer distracts her.

Tina Pesendorfer_training on the tennis court with her backhand Fotocredit - Chris Guetl-1

For Tina, wheelchair tennis started as a hobby, but the atmosphere and community of other wheelchair users, combined with her competitive nature saw Tina increasingly dedicating more and more time to the sport. But her bladder management was proving to be a hindrance, not just while training, but in her social life.

Starting intermittent catheterization

I can still remember it; in the beginning it took me forever, she says. My friends always had to wait a long time for me when we were out somewhere. But today – it's very quick.

Tina suffered a recreational accident in 2007 and has been dependent on intermittent catheterization ever since: "In the rehabilitation ward they showed me how to do it. Since I have complete paraplegia, it was clear that this was the only way it could work for me."

Now, I don't even think about it that much, it's become normal.

And Tina continues: It was very strange for me at the beginning. I have no sensation of needing to go to the toilet. So I have to be aware: what do I drink, how much do I drink, when was the last time I was on the toilet? That was a bit tedious. Now, I don't even think about it that much, it's become normal.

Her tip for someone starting catheterization is to be patient. With a routine and time, it gets easier, says the 32-year-old, who also knows from her wheelchair tennis career: "Practice makes perfect!"

Tina Pesendorfer_quote Fotocredit - Todd Trapani

LoFric catheters are easy to use – it supports her lifestyle and training needs. "It's discreet and compact " she says. In particular, when travelling, she likes to take the LoFric Elle, the first intermittent catheter with an L-shaped handle.

"The less you need, the better. You have it with you all the time, so I like the fact that the LoFric Elle is small and handy. The catheter should be the smallest thing that I pack."

Tina is now focused on upcoming events: The big goal is to participate at the Paralympics. Of course, I hope it will be in Paris 2024!

How to get involved with disability sport

Text: Lennart Nickel lennart_nickel@yahoo.de Photocredit: Chris Guetl | Todd Trapani

Topics: Neurogenic bladder, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), Bladder management, Intermittent Catheterization, Paralympics, #RoadToParis, parasports