The Framingham man who broke his neck by diving into a wading pool may be able to recover at least some movement in his body, but faces a difficult road ahead.
Cleber Dos Santos, 29, broke his fifth Cervical vertebra when he dived from a trampoline into a shallow kiddie pool. That means his cervical spine should be Functional above the fifth vertebra, giving him some upper body movement.
“Somebody like that, you would expect to be able to use a muscle to shoulder-shrug, or they might be able to move their arm out to the side,” said Rachael Finke, a Physical Therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Framingham.
Dos Santos did not undergo surgery Wednesday, as previously reported. His family said he was scheduled for surgery yesterday.
Whether the man regains movement in his torso and legs depends on whether he suffered a “complete” or “incomplete” spinal cord injury, Finke said.
If you think of the spinal cord as a garden hose, a complete injury would sever the hose completely, preventing the transmission of water. In an Incomplete Injury, she said, the hose would be nicked but not cut all the way through.
The practical differences are explained by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “An incomplete injury means that the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost. People with incomplete injuries retain some Motor or sensory function below the injury. A complete injury is indicated by a total lack of sensory and motor function below the injury.”
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries can experience chronic pain, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and increased susceptibility to respiratory and heart problems, according to the institute.
After an incomplete spinal injury, a person could be initially paralyzed and then slowly regain movement once the swelling and trauma from the injury subside, Finke said.
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries often need physical, occupational and speech therapy, and may have to learn to use a wheelchair and assistive technology for the disabled, she said.
“I think it’s important for the whole community to be aware that when somebody’s in a wheelchair, they can lead a very fulfilling life,” she said. “Even though it’s a very devastating injury for the individual and the family, they should retain hope.”
(Daily News Staff Writer Liz Mineo contributed to this report.)
By Jon Brodkin / Daily News Staff