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Home :: Neurology Disorders

Spinal Cord Injury


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Spinal Cord Injury
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Spinal cord injuries are common after falls from buildings, trees, walls, road traffic accidents, horse riding, bullet injuries and ships bunks.

Paraplegia (lower limb paralysis) or quadriplegia (all four limbs paralysed) results due to compression fracture, penetration of spinal cord by bone. A person can "break their back or neck" yet not sustain a spinal cord injury if only the bones around the spinal cord (the vertebrae) are damaged, but the spinal cord is not affected. The sharing of information and experience is at the heart of our commitment to helping each individual achieve his or her potential after injury. In the meantime, medications, rehabilitation and counseling allow many people with spinal cord injury to lead happy, active, independent lives.

Immediately following injury, which may be partial or complete, there is hemorrhage that expands. Spinal cord infarction takes place within four hours. Eight hours after injur there is global infarction at the level of injury. Paralysis below this level is now irreversible. Depending on the level of injury, paraplegia or quadriplegia takes place.

A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. Frequent causes of damage are trauma (car accident, gunshot, falls, etc.) or disease (polio, spina bifida, Friedreich's Ataxia, etc.) The sudden presence of disability can be frightening, frustrating and confusing to those affected and their families and friends. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy the axons , extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body. These spinal nerves exit and enter at each vertebral level and communicate with specific areas of the body. The sensory portions of the cord, contained within the ascending tracts of the UMNs carry messages about sensation from the skin such as pain, temperature, touch and joint position and other body parts and organs to the brain. Paralysis can involve all four extremities, a condition called quadriplegia or tetraplegia, or only the lower body, a condition called paraplegia.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

The common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury :

  • Brth injuries, which typically affect the spinal cord in the neck area.
  • Motor vehicle accidents (where the person is either riding as a passenger in the car or is struck as a pedestrian).
  • Trampoline accidents.
  • Sports injuries.
  • Diving accidents.
  • Spinal cord injury after age 65 is often caused by a fall. Overall, falls make up approximately 24 percent of spinal cord injuries.
  • Violence (gun shots or stab wounds).
  • Much less commonly, spinal cord injuries are caused by blood clots, abscesses (infections), tumors, polio, spina bifida and Friedrich's Ataxia, a rare inherited disorder.
  • Sports such as hockey, football, water skiing, and surfing.
  • Cancer, infections, arthritis and inflammation of the spinal cord also cause spinal cord injuries each year the exact number isn't known, but some estimates suggest that the number could equal or exceed the number of people with traumatic spinal cord injuries each year.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

Some common Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury :

  • Weakness, paralysis.
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control.
  • Breathing difficulties (from paralysis of the breathing muscles).
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation.
  • Pain .
  • Changes in function, sensitivity and fertility.
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from the lungs.
  • Tingling.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Dysfunction.

Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

Here is the list of the methods for treating Spinal Cord Injury :

  • Medications, such as corticosteroids (to help decrease the swelling in the spinal cord)
  • A tube that is placed into the bladder that helps to drain the urine into a collection bag.
  • It is important to treat pain with analgesics, muscle relaxants, or physical therapy modalities.
  • Feeding tube (placed through the nostril to the stomach, or directly through the abdomen into the stomach, to provide extra nutrition and calories)
  • Improved emergency care for people with spinal cord injuries and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation can minimize damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities
  • Treatment will address muscle spasms , care of the skin, and bowel and bladder dysfunction.
  • Spasticity can be reduced by many oral medications, medications that are injected into the spinal canal, or injections of botulinum toxins into the muscles.
  • observation and medical management in the intensive care unit (ICU)
  • These include medications to control pain and muscle spasticity, as well as medications that can improve bladder control, bowel control and functioning. You may also need short-term medications from time to time, such as antibiotics for urinary tract infections.