Spinal Cord Injury
Depending on the injury location and severity of the damage, patients are complete (loss of sensory and motor function) or incomplete (some function), and tetraplegia (all 4 limbs, trunk and pelvic organs) or paraplegia (trunk, leg(s) and pelvic organs).
Spinal cord injuries result from damage to the spinal vertebrae, discs, ligaments, or spinal cord. The most common cause of injury is accidents that fracture, dislocate, crush, or compress a vertebra. Bleeding, fluid accumulation, and inflammation around the spinal cord can cause disability and functional impairment.
After an accident, urgent medical attention is critical to help stabilize spinal cord damage. Today, damage cannot be reversed and treatments focus on preventing further injury, and helping patients return to a fulfilling lifestyle.
Early Stages of Treatment
Emergency room doctors immobilize patients to limit spinal cord damage, reduce complications, help patients breathe, and avoid shock.
Intravenous methylprednisolone delivered within 8 hours of the injury can reduce nerve cell damage and inflammation at the injury site. After the patient is discharged, medication can help control pain, bladder and bowel movements, muscle spasticity, and restore sexual functionality.
Patients can reduce further injury by stabilizing and aligning their spine with a rigid neck collar or special bed.
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) delivers mild electrical stimulation to nerves along the spinal column minimizing the sensation of pain. A minimally invasive and drug-free treatment option, SCS is a FDA approved therapy with proven results. The treatment has been used successfully for 30 years, and includes a 3-10 day trial period to ensure success before surgically implanting in the body.
Surgery can remove bone, vertebrae or disc fragments, and stabilize the spine to reduce deformity and pain.
A rehabilitation team might consist of several caregivers that specialize in physical, occupational, nutritional, and recreational therapies.
New medical devices can help some patients improve their mobility, independence, and physical functionality. These technologies include modern wheelchairs, computer adaptations, electronic aids, electrical stimulation, and robotic gait training.
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