Spinal cord injuries are life changing. They can take a strong, agile athlete and leave them wheelchair-bound in seconds. They can take any healthy victim and for them to rely on the help of others just to get dressed in the morning.
Depending on the severity of the injury, some people do retain some feeling and movement in the limbs below the damaged point on the spinal cord. However, there's more to worry about than just sensation and movement.
Did you know that spinal cord trauma often has complications and cascading events?
What that means is that the initial force will harm the spinal cord and cells, but in the minutes, hours and days following that injury, there are further injuries, known as secondary injuries, that can result. The risk of secondary injuries is high, which is why anyone with a spinal injury needs to seek medical attention immediately.
What are some common secondary events that take place after a spinal injury?
Some common secondary events include:
- A loss of oxygen to the spinal cord
- The release of chemicals (toxic) at the point of injury, which furthers the damage that has already taken place
Swelling of the spinal cord makes every injury appear worse than it is initially, so people who are hurt should expect some functional improvements after the pressure on the spinal cord is alleviated. However, keep in mind that a badly damaged spinal cord is likely to leave patients with little or no feeling or movement, which will require ongoing care, a treatment plan and other services moving forward.