Your spinal cord delivers messages between the brain and your body. While layers of tissue and your vertebrae protect the spinal cord, the vertebrae can fracture and damage your spinal cord under sudden, traumatic force.
Spinal cord injuries can result in the loss of various bodily functions. SCIs may affect your sensations, muscle movement, breathing, reflexes and bladder control. While you cannot reverse an SCI, some available treatments can help you learn to function again.
Immediate SCI treatment
When you initially arrive at the hospital with an SCI, physicians may perform emergency surgery to address blood clots, broken bones and damaged tissue. You may also receive corticosteroid injections to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and preserve nerve function. Surgery can remove tissue, fluid and foreign objects that press against your spinal cord.
Physicians may also use the traction technique. With traction, your doctors will align your spine and stabilize it.
Long-term SCI treatment
The goals of your physician may include enhancing your quality of life, restoring nerve function and reducing the risk of ongoing health conditions. Following an SCI, common complications include:
- Loss of bladder control
- Lung problems
Treatment may include methods to reduce complications and their symptoms. You may require assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and walkers. Your team may also provide you with an exercise regiment to increase the strength and mobility in areas of your body that still have nerve function.
Many patients require rehabilitation following a spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation may occur on an inpatient basis or an outpatient basis.