Sustaining a spinal cord injury as the result of an accident be a life-changing experience. While the SCI may heal eventually, the injured party faces a long road of medical treatment, therapy, and often adjustments to the way the individual lives. Understanding what the effects of a SCI happen to be and how they impact daily living is important to the process of coping with the condition. Here are some examples of what the individual could experience.
Many people don’t understand the role that the spine plays in general physical well being. It’s not unusual for anyone who sustains a spinal cord injury to notice a definite change in muscle function. In general, the individual will feel as if the muscles are tired and weak all the time. Simple tasks that used to require little in the way of muscle function will be more difficult. Some activities that were moderately demanding in terms of stress on the muscles will now be impossible to enjoy.
Stiffness in the Muscles
Along with the sensation of feeling weak, there is also the potential for muscle stiffness to develop. This is attributed to the fact that the nerves along the spinal column are not functioning properly. The result is tension that is carried in different muscle groups. As a result of the injury, the tension may be present even when there is no obvious reason for the muscles to be stiff.
Loss of Coordination
The injury will also impact general coordination. It becomes more difficult to hold utensils or pick up a cup of coffee. When attempting to walk, controlling the movements of the legs is harder. Even when the individual is in a prone position, using the hands to hold a book or press the keys on a remote control may require a great deal of concentration.
Changes in Sensation
The person who is dealing with a SCI will also notice a difference in touch and sensation. One of the more common effects is the development of a tingling sensation in the extremities. That tingling may occur in the hands or forearms as well as the feet and lower legs.
At times, the tingling may give way to pain. The pain often feels as if tiny needles are being inserted through the skin. That sensation of being on pins and needles can be severe enough to prevent the person from sleeping soundly and indirectly open the door to additional health woes.
Others may find that they have a decreased sense of touch. Instead of tingling or stabbing pains, they notice that their extremities feel numb. While massaging the affected areas may help some people, others find that nothing makes the numbness go away.
A person who is attempting to recover from a spinal cord injury may be short of breath from time to time. This further limits any physical activity that the individual may attempt, since it leads to gasping for breath and creating some degree of emotional distress. Keep in mind that a sudden shortness of breath may occur even when the person is not attempting to perform any type of physical activity.
Leakage is also a strong possibility for anyone who is being treated for a spinal cord injury. Urinary leakage is the most common form and can lead to some embarrassing situations. With some individuals, there is also the possibility of stool leakage. While purchasing and wearing incontinence underwear makes it easier to manage the problem, that solution does little to lessen the emotional distress that is felt when some type of leakage takes place.
Not all people who sustain this type of injury will experience all the potential effects. A great deal depends on the severity of the spinal column injury and what is being done to help the individual heal. In the meantime, it makes sense to consult with a personal injury attorney and find out what can be done to secure the resources necessary to pay for hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, and even the loss of income due to an inability to work. In the best-case scenario, full or at least partial recovery is possible and the individual will once again be able to enjoy life.