Spinal Cord Injuries are amongst the most serious of injuries and can impact the function of the entire body. In this article, we cover Spinal Cord Injury symptoms, causes and prevention methods, along with the objective of Spinal Cord Rehabilitation and how it can help a patient’s recovery process.
Spinal Cord Injuries – The symptoms
Two factors determine your ability to control your limbs after a spinal cord injury: the severity of the injury and the place of the injury along your spinal cord. A spinal cord injury may result in one or more of the following symptoms or signs:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Difficulty breathing, clearing secretions from your lungs or coughing.
- Loss of movement.
- An intense stinging sensation or pain caused by nerve fibre damage in your spinal cord.
- Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms.
Those who experience significant trauma to the head need immediate medical evaluation for the possibility of a spinal injury. Assuming that trauma victims have a spinal injury is the safest option, as a spinal injury isn’t always immediately obvious.
Spinal Cord Injuries – The causes
Spinal cord injuries may result from damage to the spinal column’s ligaments, disks or vertebrae, or to the spinal cord itself. Traumatic spinal cord injuries may stem from a sudden and traumatic blow to your spine, that dislocates, crushes, compresses or fractures your vertebrae.
Common causes of Spinal Cord Injuries include:
- Falls– After age 65, spinal cord injuries are most often caused by falls.
- Sports and recreation injuries – Athletic activities, such as diving in shallow water or impact sports, can cause spinal cord injuries.
- Disease– Osteoporosis, cancer, inflammation of the spinal cord and arthritis can all cause spinal cord injuries.
- Alcohol– The more you drink, the more likely you are to have an accident.
- Motor vehicle accidents – Auto and motorcycle accidents often lead to spinal cord injuries.
The days and weeks that follow the initial injury usually bring additional damage with them. This is due to swelling, bleeding, inflammation and fluid accumulation, in and around your spinal cord. Arthritis, inflammation, cancer, infections or disk degeneration of the spine, can also lead to spinal cord injuries.
Preventing Spinal Cord Injuries
The following advice may help you to reduce your risk of a Spinal Cord Injury:
- Take precautions when playing sports –The recommended safety gear should always be worn.
- Drive safely– Every time that you ride in or drive a car you should wear a seat belt.
- Prevent falls – Add handrails along stairways, put non-slip mats in the shower and on tile floors, and use a stool with a grab bar to reach objects in high places.
- Don’t drink and drive– Whilst intoxicated it’s important to avoid driving.
- Check water depth before diving– Don’t dive into a pool unless it’s 12 feet in depth or deeper. This is to avoid diving into shallow water.
What is Spinal Cord Rehabilitation?
For those who have experienced trauma and pain in the spinal cord as a result of disease or injury, Spinal Cord Rehabilitation tends to be the preferred method of therapy. The objective is to maximise function, increase endurance and improve the range of motion of the joints.
How does rehabilitation help?
An individual suffering from a Spinal Cord Injury may become paralysed, unable to communicate easily and unable to walk again. This can have devastating effects on both the patient and their family. Thankfully, Spinal Cord Injuries can be treated, and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation is the first step towards either a full or partial recovery.
In summary, Spinal Cord Injuries can bring with them devastating effects, however, avoiding such injuries is possible through steps as simple as driving safely and putting a non-slip mat in the shower. Spinal Cord Rehabilitation is a treatment method that is used to alleviate the symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury and to promote the recovery process.