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Do People With SCI Ever Get Better?
- March 29, 2017
There was a time when a spinal cord injury meant a permanent loss of abilities. Thanks to the advances in medicine, that is not always the case today. Depending on the severity and nature of the SCI, it is possible for the patient to get better. Here are some facts that you need to know about SCI and what can be done to make a difference today.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury is defined as any type of trauma to the spinal cord. The trauma leads to changes in the ability of the individual to move around, reduces muscle strength, and can also impact the way other organs in the body function. The effects that the person who sustains this type of injury depends greatly on the nature of the trauma, where it occurs along the spinal cord, and what type of treatments can be employed to promote healing or at least improve the management of the condition.
What is Meant By Complete and Incomplete Injuries?
The SCI may be classed as a complete or an incomplete injury. A complete SCI exists when there is a complete loss of sensation and function below the point where the spinal cord is damaged. An incomplete injury means that the patient continues to experience a noticeable level of sensation belong the point of the injury and retains at least partial muscle control below that point.
The Role of Antibiotics
Antibiotics developed since the middle of the 20th century provide a great deal of relief for people who are attempting to recover from a spinal cord injury. Incontinence is one of the more likely effects of complete or incomplete injuries, and that can pave the way for urinary infections as well as skin irritations to develop. The use of antibiotics in conjunction with anti-inflammatory medications can provide some respite from muscle spasms, stiffness, and other complications that make treating the underlying condition more difficult. At the same time, the antibiotics help the individual to enjoy a slightly better quality of life.
Spinal surgery is considerably more advanced than in decades past. This is good news for anyone who is dealing with any type of SCI. Depending on the location and the severity of the injury, it may be possible to use surgical techniques that alleviate pressure on the area and promote the growth of what is known as spinal cord axons. These are the nerve bundles found along the cord that transmit signals to the rest of the body. When the attending surgeon believes that an invasive procedure has a high chance of triggering the repair of the axons and in turn allowing the cord proper to heal, the patient stands to regain more control of the body. That in turn means being able to enjoy some of the activities that had to be set aside after the injury occurred.
Even with injuries that make the odds of a full recovery very low, physical therapy can provide some relief and equip the patient with skills needed to forge a new way of living. For example, the spinal cord injury may have deadened the sensation in the lower body, but the therapy can help the patient strengthen the upper body and increase coordination of the arms and hands. That therapy may also aid in strengthening the lungs and the rest of the respiratory system.
While the patient may not be able to walk, developing more upper body strength makes it easier to manage a wider range of tasks, use the arms and hands to help exercise the lower part of the body, and make it possible to use a wheelchair to enjoy some degree of mobility.
A spinal cord injury does not necessarily mean life is changed forever. With medical advances occurring constantly, an injury that was considered permanent a few years ago may be successfully treated today. In the meantime, the injured party should consult with a personal injury attorney and determine if there are any legal means to obtain financial resources to cover the cost of those treatments and other expenses. Doing so will help keep the financial worries at bay and help the individual focus more on regaining as much control as possible.