The spinal cord is a long, thin bundle of nerve tissue that runs from the base of your skull to just below your waist. It controls your body’s movements, sensations, and feelings from the neck down.
When the spinal cord is injured by a traumatic accident or an underlying medical condition, it can lead to serious health problems, including paralysis, chronic pain, and loss of range of motion. However, early diagnosis and proper medical care may make it possible to recover from spinal injuries.
Keep reading as we explore why spinal injuries are so serious, their causes, and what you can do to recover.
The Most Common Causes of Spinal Injuries
Many factors can increase your chances of suffering a spinal cord injury (SCI), with car accidents being the most common. Falls, sports injuries, acts of violence, and infections are also known causes.
According to the United Spinal Association, car accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries in the U.S., accounting for about 39 per cent of the total cases annually.
Falls come a close second at 31 per cent, while sports-related injuries, violence, illnesses, and other minor causes share the remaining percentage.
It is important to note that accident-related spinal cord injuries can often result in lifelong disabilities that can extremely impact your quality of life. The good news is that you may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered an SCI in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
However, handling accident claims on your own may be challenging, especially if you lack legal experience. If that is your situation, a lawyer may assist you with your spine injury claim by evaluating your case, negotiating with the insurance company, or even representing you in court if your case goes to trial.
Why are Spinal Injuries So Serious?
The spinal cord has many functions, including sending messages to other body parts and transmitting sensory information from the body to the brain. It also controls the trunk muscles and helps maintain the balance of the body.
Given the critical role the spinal cord plays in the body, any damage, however minor, can cause severe complications.
Some common problems that spinal cord injuries can cause include loss of bladder control, sexual dysfunction, muscle atrophy, and permanent nerve damage. And if left untreated, some spinal injuries may even lead to premature death.
An injury to the spinal cord can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as walking or sitting up. It may also require extensive treatment and rehabilitation to prevent total disability and relieve pain, which can be costly to the victim.
Recovery After a Spinal Injury
It is vital to seek quick medical attention after a spinal cord injury. Seeking medical help ensures a doctor establishes the extent of damage to your spinal cord and nervous system and recommends the best course of treatment.
Recovery from an SCI will depend on many factors, including the severity of the injury, the patient’s age, and the patient’s effort. In many cases, SCI victims may require extensive rehabilitation to regain mobility and be able to perform daily tasks.
Rehabilitation for SCI patients may involve various treatments, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and massage. Patients should ensure they attend all the therapy sessions and follow the doctor’s recommendations to speed up recovery.
To successfully recover from a spinal cord injury, patients will also need the support of family and friends. In most cases, family members may have to modify their homes to accommodate changes in the mobility of SCI patients and assist with daily tasks.
Additionally, victims may need psychotherapists to help them deal with the psychological impacts of an SCI by providing counselling and emotional support. Some of the common psychological impacts of an SCI include stress, anxiety, and depression.