What Complications Can Occur with a Spinal Cord Injury?

Attorney Mark Rufo PC

A serious car accident can lead to many injuries, including damage to the spinal cord. This damage can affect your movement, but it can also cause many other serious complications.

Physiopedia explains a few spinal cord injury complications and how they might impact your life. In general, the severity of an injury and the chance of complications depends on the extent of the damage to the spine, and where the injury actually occurs.

Spinal shock

Spinal shock involves a loss of reflexive activity below the area where the spinal injury. This can entail full or partial loss of function, which usually depends on the severity of the injury. Spinal shock can pose an issue for a few days, or it can persist for 12 months or longer.

Autonomic dysreflexia

A rise in blood pressure occurs when an irritant affects your body below the site of the spinal cord injury. Because you are unable to resolve the irritant, you will continue to receive pain signals, which results in a dangerous spike in blood pressure. Autonomic dysreflexia most often accompanies complete injuries, which means body parts below the spinal injury are completely paralyzed.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE)

DVT involves the development of blood clots in the lower extremities. If one of these clots breaks free and travels to the lungs, PE can occur. PE is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention.

Pressure sores

Also known as bedsores, pressure sores often accompany limited mobility. When areas of the body receive continuous friction, a sore develops. Sores begin as superficial injuries but can progress rapidly. Prevention of pressure sores requires help moving the injury victim when bedridden, as well as daily changing of bedding and clothing.

Some people are able to make a full recovery from their injuries, while others may experience limited mobility and complications for the long-term. Medical treatments and physical therapy can restore some function and/or limit discomfort resulting from the initial injury.