Spinal cord injury (SCI) typically results in sensory paralysis, or a loss of feeling in areas using nerves that connect to the spinal cord below the level of injury. A person with complete paralysis can’t tell if these areas are being tickled with a feather, stuck with a pin, or burned with a match. The lack of pain sensation presents a constant danger; persons with SCI must to learn to compensate with other senses to avoid damaging themselves.
Unfortunately, paralysis does not guarantee freedom from pain. In fact, a number of people with SCI experience chronic pain in areas that otherwise have no sensation.
Pressure ulcers are a common, debilitating, and costly complication of SCI, often requiring long periods of immobility, hospitalization, and/or surgery. Patients with SCI are therefore carefully instructed to perform regular, frequent pressure releases in order to maintain blood flow to the skin and avoid Skin Breakdown.
Yet many individuals with SCI get pressure ulcers despite diligent Pressure Release behavior, and others get pressure ulcers that don’t heal for years, said Jennifer James, MD, clinical assistant professor at the UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.
Episode 28: Mercedes/Handicap Car
This time, Jesse wanted to make the ultimate handicap-accessible vehicle. And what Jesse wants, Jesse gets.
Get details on the Mercedes/Handicap Car below. Then, for more behind-the-scenes scoop, see our interview with race-car driver Ray Paprota, the first Paraplegic driver to compete in a NASCAR touring series.
Drug Treatments For New Injuries
NOTE: It is important to realize these drugs are not a cure for chronic (long-term) spinal cord injuries. It is heart-ening to note, however, that treatments finally are available to lessen the severity of some acute injuries.
Research has shown that all damage in SCI does not occur instantaneously. Mechanical disruption of nerves and nerve fibers occurs at the time of injury. Within 30 minutes, hemorrhaging is observed in the damaged area of the spinal cord and this may expand over the next few hours.
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The bladder muscle, “detruser” and external sphincter are similarly affected. Early drainage occurs with indwelling (“foley”) Catheter. When urine volumes are equal to or less than 400 cc per 4 hr., the patient is converted to an Intermittent Catheterization program (ICP). Control fluid intake is closely monitored, especially at night (due to remobilization of fluid from the legs). Early catheter removal reduces the risk of infection (UTI) and allows for better fluid regulation and restriction if necessary. Early ICP reduces Foley Catheter related complications (erosion, stones, recurrent infections, colonization, resistant organisms).
Doctors trying to find a way to repair devastating spinal injuries have used a plastic tube implant to restore some movement in rats.
However, experts say this is simply a step forward in the search for a “cure” which may be some years away.
The simple, tiny tube may act as a “bridge” which allows regrowing nerve cells to stretch across the gap left by an injury, and hopefully make connections on the other side.
Every year, approximately 10,000 persons in the United States, typically young adults (New Mobility, 1996), seriously injure their spinal cords and become permanently paralyzed. Through advances in medical treatment, most persons survive a spinal cord injury and live two or more decades post-injury. However, researchers have only recently begun to study the long-term psychosocial implications of a spinal cord injury (Whiteneck, Charlifue, Frankel, et al., 1992). One such psychosocial implication is the person’s perceived satisfaction with the quality of his or her life following such an injury. This study examined factors associated with the life satisfaction of persons with a spinal cord injury including biological, personal, and social factors.