There were 580 spinal cord injuries in Georgia in 2021, according to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission. Motor vehicle accidents are the number-one cause of spinal cord injuries. Some spinal cord injuries are chronic, which means that they gradually occur and are long-lasting. However, some spinal cord injuries are acute.
Acute spinal cord injuries occur suddenly and are severe. These injuries occur because of trauma that injures the spinal cord. In some cases, temporary, partial or permanent paralysis can result.
Your spinal cord’s function
Your spinal cord runs from the stem of your brain down the center of your back to your tailbone. It contains nerves that allow your brain to communicate with other parts of your body. There are also bones in your back called vertebrae, and those bones protect your spine. Damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis or even death.
Car accidents are the leading cause of acute spinal cord injuries. Other causes include falls, acts of violence, penetrating injuries and sports injuries.
Acute spinal cord injuries cause a variety of symptoms. The location of the injury on the spinal cord determines which part of the body is affected. An injury to the upper part of the spine is likely to affect breathing. But an injury that occurs lower can affect the nerves, bowels, legs, bladder and sexual organs.
Recovery is sometimes possible with medical treatment and rehabilitation. When recovery isn’t possible, occupational therapy is often used to teach people how to live with their new situation. Mental healthcare may become a focus as well. For some people, a severe injury to the spine can cause depression and other disorders.