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Treatment For A Spinal Cord Injury | Daytona Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

Treatment For A Spinal Cord Injury

A traumatic spinal cord injury may stem from a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of the vertebrae. Such injuries are most often caused by car accidents, which account for more than 40 percent of new spinal cord injuries each year.

Whether the cause is traumatic or nontraumatic, the damage affects the nerve fibers passing through the injured area and may impair part or all of the corresponding muscles and nerves below the injury site. A chest or lower back injury can affect the chest, abdomen, legs, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. In addition, a neck injury affects movements of the arms and, possibly, the ability to breathe.

The most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the United States are motor vehicle accidents, followed by acts of violence, falls and sports and recreation injuries. Cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and inflammation of the spinal cord also can cause spinal cord injuries.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here’s what you can expect from treatment. In the emergency room, a doctor may be able to rule out a spinal cord injury by careful inspection, testing for sensory function and movement, and asking some questions about the accident. But if the injured person complains of neck pain, isn’t fully awake, or has obvious signs of weakness or neurological injury, emergency diagnostic tests may be needed.

If a doctor suspects a spinal cord injury, he or she may prescribe traction to immobilize the spine. A few days after injury, when some of the swelling may have subsided, a doctor will conduct a neurological exam to determine the level and completeness of the injury. This involves testing muscle strength and the ability to sense light touch and a pinprick.

If you do have a spinal cord injury, you’ll usually be admitted to the intensive care unit for treatment. You may even be transferred to a regional spine injury center that has a team of neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, spinal cord medicine specialists, psychologists, nurses, therapists and social workers with expertise in spinal cord injury.

After the initial injury or disease stabilizes, doctors turn their attention to preventing secondary problems that may arise, such as deconditioning, muscle contractures, pressure ulcers, bowel and bladder issues, respiratory infections and blood clots.

The length of hospitalization depends on the individual’s condition and the medical issues they’re facing. Once a person is well enough to participate in therapies and treatment, they may transfer to a rehabilitation facility.

During the initial stages of rehabilitation, therapists usually emphasize maintenance and strengthening of existing muscle function, redeveloping fine motor skills and learning adaptive techniques to accomplish day-to-day tasks. Medications may be used to manage some of the effects of spinal cord injury. These include medications to control pain and muscle spasticity, as well as medications that can improve bladder control, bowel control and sexual functioning.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord. But, researchers are continually working on new treatments. In the meantime, spinal cord injury treatment focuses on preventing further injury and empowering people with a spinal cord injury to return to an active and productive life.

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