Spinal Cord Injury Treatment
In 1995, actor Christopher Reeve fell off a horse and severely damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. From then until his death in 2004, the silver screen Superman became the most famous face of spinal cord injury.
Most spinal cord injury causes permanent disability or loss of movement (paralysis) and sensation below the site of the injury. Paralysis that involves the majority of the body, including the arms and legs, is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. When a spinal cord injury affects only the lower body, the condition is called paraplegia.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
- Loss of movement
- Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
- Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs
Emergency signs and symptoms
- Fading in and out of consciousness
- Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head or back Weakness, incoordination or paralysis in any part of your body
- Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in your hands, fingers, feet or toes
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Impaired breathing after injury
- An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back
Tests and diagnosis of Spinal Cord Injury
Paramedics and emergency workers are trained to treat people who have suffered a traumatic head or neck injury as if they have a spinal cord injury or an unstable spinal column, until a thorough screening and diagnosis can be completed. A key step in the initial treatment is immobilizing the spine.
If your doctor suspects a spinal cord injury, he or she may prescribe traction to immobilize your spine, as well as high doses of the corticosteroid drug methylprednisolone (Medrol). There is some controversy about the use of this medication due to the small benefits noted in research studies and the possible risks. However, there are no other medications available at this time. So, methylprednisolone is often given as soon as possible, and it must be given within eight hours of injury…
Treatments of Spinal Cord Injury
Fifty years ago, a spinal cord injury was usually fatal. At that time, most injuries were severe, complete injuries and little treatment was available.
Today, there’s still no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord. But modern injuries are usually less severe, partial spinal cord injuries. And advances in recent years have improved the recovery of people with a spinal cord injury and significantly reduced the amount of time survivors must spend in the hospital. Researchers are working on new treatments, including innovative treatments, prostheses and medications that may promote nerve cell regeneration or improve the function of the nerves that remain after a spinal cord injury…
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