Each year, about 8,000 new spinal cord injuries are diagnosed.
More than 80 percent of them are in men between the ages of
16 and 30. As many as 450,000 Americans live with spinal cord
injuries. Car and motorcycle crashes, gunshot and knife wounds,
and falls and sports injuries are the most common causes of
damage to the spinal cord, the bundle of nerves that runs
through the backbone. This network transmits sensation and
controls movement throughout the body. Damage to it can cause
loss of mobility and feeling below the injured area, and can
be fatal in serious injuries.
Nearly half of the estimated 7,800 nonfatal spinal cord
injuries that occur each year are the result of motor vehicle
accidents. Spinal injury at the neck level may impair a person¹s
breathing and paralyze arms, legs and trunk (quadriplegia).
Injury lower in the spine may cause weakness and loss of movement
or feeling only in the legs and lower parts of the body (paraplegia).
A severed spinal cord cannot be repaired. In less severe cases,
recovery depends of the extent of the damage.
Symptoms of spinal cord damage may include weakness, poor
coordination, paralysis, numbness, tingling, loss of bowel
or bladder control, pain. Any trauma that pulls, compresses,
pushes sideways or cuts your spinal cord may cause spinal
cord injury. Spinal cord injuries can also be caused by blood
clots, abscesses, tumors, polio, spina bifida or Friedrich¹s
Ataxia, an inherited disorder.
If spinal cord injury is suspected, a CT scan, MRI or myelogram
may be used as diagnostic tools. Immediate medical treatment
should focus on stabilizing the spine and aggressive treatment
with corticosteroid drugs to limit damage. Surgery may also
be necessary to stabilize the spine or fuse the spine with
metal plates or pins. Once the initial injury heals, functional
improvements may continue for at least six months. After that
time period, any remaining disability is likely to be permanent.
Long-term treatment involves an intense program of rehabilitation
therapy. Continuing treatment might include nutritional management,
occupational therapy, psychological counseling and careful
monitoring by physicians.
If you or someone you know has suffered a spinal cord injury,
either through some trauma like an automobile accident, or
through a blood clot that forms after a back surgery is performed,
call Phillips & Mitchell toll free at 1-866-321-1580 for
a free consultation, or click on our Free
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