Common Causes Of Spinal Cord Injuries
SCIs can occur in many different situations and commonly happen in preventable accidents. Some of the common scenarios from which spinal cord injuries can result include the following:
- Bicycle accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Slips, trips, and falls;
- Contact sports;
- Recreational accidents;
- Violent assaults.
Spinal cord injuries are particularly prevalent in collisions between motor vehicles and bicyclists, pedestrians, or others who have little protection from the impact. Because Portland is such a bike and walk friendly city, the risk of spinal injuries can be high.
Effects Of A Spinal Injury
The effects of spinal cord injuries can vary substantially from one victim to another. Spinal injuries are generally separated into two categories:
- Complete Injury: A complete injury means that the victim loses all movement and sensory abilities below the point of the damage, resulting in complete paralysis.
- Incomplete Injury: An incomplete injury can impair some functioning below the point of damage though victim’s retain some sensation and movement.
In addition to the complete and incomplete distinction, victims may experience symptoms of spinal cord injuries either temporarily or permanently. Some patients regain mobility with time and treatment while others are permanently paraplegic or quadriplegic.
Treatment For An SCI
Any time an injury to the spinal cord is suspected, the victim requires emergency trauma care to stabilize the injury, often through immobilization. The next concern is keeping the patient breathing and ensuring additional damage to the spine does not occur. Often the full extent of the damage cannot be immediately identified until swelling around the trauma point is reduced. Once doctors are able, they can use advanced imaging tests and neurological exams to determine the damage to the spinal tissue and identify how your movement and sensory abilities have been affected.
Depending on the type and severity of SCI that occurred, doctors may choose to administer steroids, use spinal traction techniques, or perform surgery to remove fragments of bone or fluid and to help decompress the spinal cord. Often, victims of serious spinal cord injuries require extended hospitalization and monitoring to prevent complications.
Following release from the hospital, SCI victims often require extensive rehabilitative and follow-up treatment. Many spinal cord victims will require medical equipment and living assistance until their mobility is restored. Victims with permanent paralysis may need accommodations to their home, vehicle, and workplace, as well as wheelchairs and other equipment. Some paralyzed individuals require full or part-time in-home healthcare. The effects of an SCI can be extensive and long-lasting though, fortunately, Portland is home to an excellent spine center at OHSU, as well as spinal support groups for victims and their caretakers.
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