Spinal cord injuries usually begin with a blow that fractures or dislocates the vertebrae, the bone discs that make up your spine. Most injuries do not sever the spinal cord. Instead, the blow will displace bone fragments and disc material, bruise ligaments, tear into cord tissue, or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals. This compression of the nerve can crush and destroy axons, extensions of the nerve cells that carry the signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the entire body. In a complete spinal cord injury, the cord cannot relay messages below the level of the injury. As a result, there is paralysis below the level of injury. In an incomplete injury, there is some movement and sensation below the injury.
Categories of Spinal Injury:
- Herniated Discs
- Radiofrequency Neurotomies
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Spinal Fusion
- Burst Fractures
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment
A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can reduce long-term effects. The emergency care for spinal injuries has improved significantly. Emergency rooms now aggressive treat and rehabilitate patients with spinal cord injuries. They are able to minimize the damage to the nervous system with use of the steroid drug methylprednisolone; given within the first 8 hours after injury it reduces damage to the nerves. In some cases, this aggressive treatment will even restore limited abilities.
If respiratory complications are included, that usually means a more severe and long-term debilitating injury. Approximately one-third of neck-area spinal cord injury victims will need help with breathing which will require respiratory support.
Eventually treatment will include rehabilitation therapy. The rehabilitation program will combine physical therapy, skill-building activities, and counseling for social and emotional issues.
Spinal Cord Injury Prognosis
Victims sustaining incomplete spinal cord injuries, where the spinal cord is still able to convey messages to and from the brain, will retain some motor and / or sensory functions below the injury. The amount of function will be determined by the amount of damage and how regularly and aggressively physical therapy is performed.
A complete spinal cord injury means that there is a total lack of sensory and motor function below the point of injury. This will usually mean many more medical complications. The complications may include:
- chronic pain
- bladder dysfunction
- bowel dysfunction
- respiratory problems
- heart problems
These chronic conditions need to be handled and monitored on a daily basis to optimize the degree of recovery.
This information is provided as a service of TSR Injury Law. Our Minnesota Spinal Injury Attorneys are skilled, aggressive litigators with years of experience with cases involving spinal injuries from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, or pedestrian accidents. Call 612-TSR-TIME or submit our free consultation form.