What is Spinal Cord Injury?
- March 29, 2017
If you’re in a car accident, there is the potential for a spinal cord injury to occur. This is sometimes the worst injury that you could receive in an accident as it can lead to paralysis and altering the rest of your life. There are symptoms that you need to look for if you don’t suspect that there is an injury present right away. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help ease the pain of the injury and to get your life back on track with treatments that are available.
There are different types of spinal cord injuries and two categories that they are classified into to make diagnosis and treatment a bit easier. One is an incomplete injury. This is when the cord is partially severed. With this injury, you will likely be able to keep some of the basic functions, but the functions that you have won’t be determined until you’re examined and find out what you can do and what you can’t. Once you start working with a physical therapist, you can better see what functions are retained.
On the other hand, a complete spinal cord injury is one where the cord is completely severed. Functions are basically eliminated, and there is a possibility of death occurring at the moment of impact or shortly after. If you survive the accident, then there won’t be the basic functions that you are accustomed to, such as walking. If you participate in physical therapy and take part in treatments that are available, you might be able to regain some kind of function once again, but the chance is a small percentage.
An incomplete injury is becoming a bit more common with the help of medical technology and the types of surgeries that can be performed. There are also more ways of knowing how to respond to a spinal cord injury if one is suspected so that more damage isn’t done to the area. Anterior cord syndrome involves damage that occurs to the front of the spine. This is often seen in head-on collisions where most of the impact is targeted at the front of the body. You will usually feel sensations with this kind of injury, but movements are impaired.
Central cord syndrome affects the center of the cord. It will limit the signals that are carried to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. You will usually experience a loss of the fine motor skills and paralysis in the arms and hands. There is sometimes less movement in the legs as well with this type of injury. At times, you might have a loss of bowel and bladder control since the sensory functions are impaired. This often leads to a colostomy bag of some kind being used. You could also lose sexual functions.
When one side of the spinal cord is damaged, it’s called Brown-Sequard syndrome. You’ll see more damage to one side of the body than the other. This is sometimes a better injury compared to losing full function in the body as you’ll still have control over one side, but it’s still a type of paralysis that could have been avoided in the accident.
When doctors are able to determine where the spinal injury is located and the severity of the injury, then they can better treat the condition. This also helps with the prognosis. Tetraplegia is usually at the top of the list for the most severe injuries as the spinal cord is almost completely damaged. It’s also known as quadriplegia. You will likely lose feeling and function in all of the limbs. It results in being unable to walk or move the arms. You’ll be unable to move below the area that is injured, so it really depends on the location of the spinal injury as to the severity of the paralysis. Paraplegia involves being paralyzed from the waist down. Triplegia occurs when there is a loss of sensation or movement in the legs and one arm or both arms. This is usually what is seen with an incomplete spinal cord injury.