A Spinal Cord Injury is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition caused due to a traumatic event such as an accident. It leads to changes in body function, strength, and sensation that can be permanent in many cases. If you or someone around you has sustained physical trauma, it is vital to know the warning signs of an SCI so that you can seek medical attention as soon as possible and minimize the damage. Here, we outline the common symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury.
Understanding Spinal Cord Injury
A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) involves mutilation to the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include the loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function, in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. Spinal Cord Injury typically occurs due to violence, road accidents, or other such traumatic incidents. Treatment entails a regenerative rehabilitation program that includes Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and other procedures as deemed necessary.
Emergency signs of a Spinal Cord Injury
If someone has sustained trauma to the head or neck after an accident, violent encounter, or sports injury, they may be at risk of a Spinal Cord Injury. The injury may not be apparent at first, as many patients continue to be mobile for a while. Warning signs to watch out for include:
- Numbness anywhere in the body
- Difficulty walking
- Oddly positioned back or neck
- Severe pain in the back or neck
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Weakness and/or paralysis
If a patient is exhibiting one or more of these, it is vital that they not move and that they are taken to an emergency ward immediately. A neurologist can conduct appropriate tests and determine whether or not the patient has an SCI.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
The location and severity of Spinal Cord Injury symptoms will depend on how bad the injury is. If you experience a total loss of function and movement below the site of the injury, you have a complete SCI. If you still have some sensation and mobility below the site of the injury, you have an incomplete SCI.
The typical symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury patients include:
- Paralysis in two or more limbs, classified accordingly as diplegia, hemiplegia, or tetraplegia
- Loss of or altered sensory abilities, such as the way the patient feels cold and heat
- Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
- Unusual lumps along the length of the spine
- Pain or stinging sensation owing to nerve damage
- Difficulty coughing or clearing phlegm
- Sexual dysfunction and reduced fertility
Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury
While completely recovering from a Spinal Cord Injury can be hard, consistent treatment can significantly enhance functionality and wellbeing. Neurologists and therapists will work together with the patient to craft a tailored treatment plan based on the patient’s symptoms and overall health. Typical treatment options include:
- Physiotherapy, to restore strength and flexibility in the affected limbs
- Occupational Therapy, to help the patient complete daily activities of life with suitable modifications
- Speech Therapy, to regain control over muscles in the mouth and neck for safe breathing, swallowing, and articulation
- Mobility aids for getting around safely
- Stem Cell Therapy, a revolutionary treatment method that uses the patient’s own cells to generate healthy new cells in the CNS and thus potentially reverse the Spinal Cord Injury
Living with a Spinal Cord Injury can significantly impact your physical, mental, and emotional wellness. It is important to take as much time as you need to process the reality of your situation, preferably with the help of psychological counseling. In addition, keep doing the things you enjoy and that matter to you, as far as possible, along with your treatment. The better your mental health, the more your motivation to heal, and the stronger your chances of recovery.