Spinal cord injury is a condition where there is damage or injury to nerves located in the spinal canal (canal). Spinal cord damage is generally caused by accidents when driving, exercising, or physical violence.
The spinal cord is the nerve that plays a role in the process of sending signals from the brain throughout the body, and vice versa. If the spinal cord is damaged, it will cause interference with some bodily functions, such as the loss of motor sensors and motion control.
Management of injuries to the spinal nerves must be done immediately. If not, it will affect the length of the recovery period, worsen the condition, and cause complications.
Spinal Cord Injury Causes
Spinal cord injury can occur due to damage to the tissue, pads, bones, or the spinal cord itself. Based on the cause, spinal cord injury is divided into 2 types, namely traumatic and non traumatic.
Traumatic spinal cord injury is an injury caused due to a shift, fracture, or spinal strain that occurs due to an accident, such as: Motor Accident, Fall during activities, Accident while exercising, Experienced violence.
While non traumatic spinal cord injuries are injuries caused by other conditions or diseases, such as cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, spinal growth abnormalities from birth, and inflammation of the spine.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
Your ability to control your limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on two factors: the place of the injury along your spinal cord and the severity of injury to the spinal cord.
The lowest normal part of your spinal cord is referred to as the neurological level of your injury. The severity of the injury is often called “the completeness” and is classified as either of the following:
- Complete. If all feeling (sensory) and all ability to control movement (motor function) are lost below the spinal cord injury, your injury is called complete.
- Incomplete. If you have some motor or sensory function below the affected area, your injury is called incomplete. There are varying degrees of incomplete injury.
Then, the symptoms of loss of sensory ability and movement control due to injury to the spinal cord are further divided into 3 categories:
- Tetraplegia or quadriplegia, ie paralysis occurs in both arms and legs. This paralysis can also affect the chest muscles, causing the patient to have difficulty breathing and need a breathing apparatus.
- Paraplegia, which is paralysis that can occur in the lower half of the body (both legs).
- Triplegia, which is paralysis that can occur in both legs and one arm.
Spinal Cord Injury Diagnosis
The diagnosis process begins with asking the symptoms that arise, as well as a history of the disease and medical actions that have been undertaken by patients. In an accident, the doctor will ask about the incident in detail, especially the impact mechanism experienced by the patient. The doctor will also carry out physical examinations, including nerve tests, for example testing the strength of muscles and the patient’s ability to feel stimuli (such as light touches or punctures of small sharp objects such as pins). After that, the doctor will do several tests to see the condition of the patient’s spine. The tests used in diagnosing spinal cord injury are: X-ray, CT Scan, MRI.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatments
Management of spinal cord injuries must be done immediately by spinal cord injury specialist. If not, this can affect the length of the recovery period and cause complications.
A spinal cord injury requires immediate treatment in order to address life-threatening complications and to decrease the risk of long-term problems. Corticosteroid drugs such as are used to reduce swelling. In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Bed rest may be needed in order for the spine to heal. After acute spinal cord injuries occur, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation interventions sometimes are required.
Spinal Cord Injury Surgery
According to our spinal cord specialist, spinal cord injury surgery maybe recommended immediately if the spinal cord appears to be compressed by a herniated disc, blood clot or other lesion. This is most commonly done for patients with an incomplete spinal cord injury or with progressive neurological deterioration. Even if surgery cannot reverse damage to the spinal cord, surgery may be needed to stabilize the spine to prevent future pain or deformity. The surgeon will decide which procedure will provide the greatest benefit to the patient.