Traumatic accidents can result in a wide range of serious injuries. An acute spinal cord injury occurs when spinal tissues sustain damage suddenly. These injuries often result from car accidents, sports injuries, falling accidents, and violent assaults.
An acute injury can cause lasting effects, some of which may severely limit a person’s life. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you or a loved one has experienced a serious spinal cord injury.
While effects vary based on what part of the spine suffers damage, some symptoms accompany most acute spinal injuries. Many people experience loss of sensation in the arms, chest, and legs. Muscle function is also affected, as a person may experience weakness or spasms. Problems breathing can also occur, and some people also experience bladder and bowel dysfunction.
Diagnosis and treatment
Serious injuries require immediate medical attention to determine the scope and severity. From there, doctors use diagnostic testing and physical examination to assess the injuries. Surgery can also occur to limit immediate effects.
When it comes to treatment, the best course of action depends on the specific injuries. Doctors will stabilize the neck and back to allow time for bones and tissues to heal. Medications can also help with things like inflammation, which contributes to some of the above symptoms. For instance, corticosteroid injections can bring down swelling in spinal tissues.
Many patients also require long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation. If a full recovery is not possible due to the scope of the injuries, the patient will learn how to use assistive walking devices. Vocational rehab can also help patients adjust to their new limitations.