Many doctors tell patients and families that recovery does not occur after spinal cord injury. This is not true. Recovery is the rule, not the exception after spinal cord injury.
• Segmental recovery. Most patients recover 1-2 segments below the injury site, even after so-called “complete” spinal cord injuries. For example, a person with a C4/5 injury may have deltoid function on admission and then recover biceps (C5), wrist extensors (C6), and perhaps even triceps (C7) after several months, and the associated dermatomes.
The types of disability associated with SCI vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury, the segment of the spinal cord at which the injury occurs, and which nerve fibers are damaged.
Most people with SCI regain some functions between a week and 6 months after injury, but the likelihood of spontaneous recovery diminishes after 6 months. Rehabilitation strategies can minimize long-term disability.
The cord in humans may be likened to a coaxial cable, about one inch in diameter, and is a continuation of the brain.
It looks like firm, white fat; nerves extend out from the cord to the muscles, skin and bones, to control movement, receive sensations and regulate bodily excretions and secretions.
The 31 pairs of spinal nerves divide the cord into the following segments: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 1 coccygeal.
Recovery is the rule and not the exception after spinal cord injury. The probability of recovery is high, especially after “incomplete” spinal cord injury.
Clinical trial data indicate that if a person had even slight sensation or movement below the injury site shortly after injury, they will recover an average of 59% of the function they lost and, if they receive high-dose methylprednisolone, they will recover an average of 75% of what they had lost.
As a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair, you have additional health concerns. For example you must work harder to maintain your health. If you lack sensation, you must be alert for other signals from your body. It is wise to find out what you can about healthcare and advocating for yourself before an emergency or serious health threat arises.
Research on trauma-related disorders such as SCI focuses on increasing scientific understanding of how changes in molecules, cells, and their complex interactions determine the outcome of SCI, and finding ways to prevent and treat these injuries.
There is also increasing interest in neural stem and progenitor cells and their potential application in cell replacement therapies for the treatment of complex neurological disorders such as SCI.
Yes, before World War II, most people who sustained SCI died within weeks of their injury due to urinary dysfunction, respiratory infection or pressure sores. With the advent of modern antibiotics, modern materials such as plastics and latex, and better procedures for dealing with everyday issues of living with SCI, many people approach the life span of non-disabled individuals.
Damage to the spinal cord due to an injury can be permanent and currently there is no cure, however new research proves that spinal cord repair and regeneration is possible.
More and more researchers around the world are confident that a cure for paralysis could be as close as ten years away. New breakthroughs and discoveries leading to a cure are imminent.
Yes, before World War II, most people who sustained SCI died within weeks of their injury due to urinary dysfunction, respiratory infection or pressure sores. With the advent of modern antibiotics, modern materials such as plastics and latex, and better procedures for dealing with everyday issues of living with SCI, many people approach the life span of non-disabled individuals. Interestingly, other than level of injury, the type of rehabilitation facility used is the greatest indicator of long-term survival.
While recent advances in emergency care and rehabilitation allow many SCI patients to survive, methods for reducing the extent of injury and for restoring function are still limited. Immediate treatment for acute SCI includes techniques to relieve cord compression, prompt (within 8 hours of the injury) drug therapy with corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone to minimize cell damage, and stabilization of the vertebrae of the spine to prevent further injury.