The spinal cord transmits information from the brain to the rest of the body. The spinal cord is surrounded and protected by layers of tissue called meninges and a column of vertebrae (spinal bones). Most spinal cord injuries are caused by a sudden, severe impact on the vertebrae. The broken bones then injure the spinal cord and its nerves.
A lumbar spinal cord injury can result in varying degrees of lower-body paralysis, often known as paraplegia. If you recently suffered a spinal cord injury, it may appear that every element of your life has been disrupted. The injury may have a negative psychological, emotional, and social impact on you. However, individuals with lumbar spinal cord injuries can improve their functional abilities and enjoy satisfying lives with effective rehabilitative options.
Types of Spinal Cord Injury
Because most spinal cord injuries are caused by trauma, there are several ways injuries and distinct kinds of spinal cord damage occur. The most frequent causes of spinal cord damage are car accidents, slips, falls, blunt force trauma, sporting injuries, and surgical complications.
Incomplete vs. Complete Lumbar Spine Injury
One way to assess the extent of a spinal cord injury is to establish if it is complete or incomplete. These two types of injuries have very different recovery outlooks and rehabilitation strategies.
Incomplete Lumbar Spine Injury
An incomplete lumbar spine injury implies that some nerve impulses can still be delivered to the brain down the spinal cord, even from below the affected site. Incomplete damage may result in some movement and feeling. People with these injuries have a wide range of movement and sensation.
Symptoms of Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
The functions of the spinal cord are only partially affected in the case of an incomplete spinal cord injury. The outcomes of incomplete spinal cord damage are thus more variable. A person with incomplete spinal cord damage caused by an infection might still be capable of functioning normally. However, a gunshot wound survivor whose injury is higher on the spine, but incomplete, may experience problems identical to complete spinal cord injury patients.
While symptoms vary considerably from case to case, the following are some common signs and symptoms of an incomplete SCI:
- Retaining some sensations below the injured region. The ability to feel touch may be sporadic and considerably weaker than the sensations you once had.
- The ability to move some muscles below the injured spot. The range of motion could vary, and you may have significant control over some muscles but not others.
- Pain underneath the injury. Many survivors of partial spinal cord injuries describe persistent discomfort.
- Mobility limitations are prevalent, including tetraplegia, quadriplegia or paraplegia.
Complete Lumbar Spine Injury
Complete spinal cord injuries happen when the spinal cord is entirely compressed or severed, rendering the capacity of your brain to send impulses below the spot of injury absolutely impossible.
When a person has a complete SCI, they lose all sensation and function for anything linked to nerves below the site of damage. As a result, the further up the spinal cord damage occurs, the more profound the symptoms.
Symptoms of Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
A complete SCI results in the total loss of all sensory and motor functions below the site of damage. Almost half of all SCIs are complete. Equal paralysis occurs on both sides of the body. Even in the case of a complete SCI, the spinal cord is almost never completely severed or transected. More typically, the injury is caused by a spinal cord contusion, bruise, or blood flow disruption to the affected spinal cord region.
The symptoms of complete and incomplete spinal cord damage are nearly identical in the days immediately following your spinal cord injury. However, minor differences may occur over time. Those symptoms include:
- Decreased sensation below the site of damage
- Complete lack of mobility below the injury site.
- Experiencing difficulties managing your bowels and bladder.
- If your spinal cord damage is severe enough, you may have difficulties breathing without assistance.
Lumbar Spine Injury Prognosis and Treatment
Spinal cord injuries that do not result in paralysis have the best chance of recovery. Patients who do develop paralysis, however, still have an increasingly good chance of substantial recovery, thanks to new medical studies and advancements. The prognosis is improved if therapies are started as soon as possible to build up the muscles below the level of the spinal cord damage.
The first year of recuperation is the most difficult, since the patient is still adjusting to their condition. Participating in physical therapy and occupational therapy during this period is essential for healing. The extent to which the function fully recovers is usually apparent in the first two years following the initial damage.
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the spinal cord damage; however, they commonly include:
- Physical therapy is used to strengthen the injured region.
- Surgery is done to remove anything that has pierced the spinal cord or to perform a fusion (to limit movement in the spinal column around the spinal cord).
- Steroid injections are also utilized to treat inflammation in the spinal cord injury location.
- Stem cells are being researched for their potential use in the treatment of spinal cord injury. With their potential to rebuild damaged tissue, stem cells have a hopeful future in treating various ailments.
Brooks Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Options
Brooks’ innovative technology aids in patient improvement during their recovery journey. However, we know that tech alone is not enough; individuals suffering from paraplegia, tetraplegia, or any other spinal injury require emotional comfort as well as a personal connection. As a result, Brooks’ spinal cord injury rehabilitation includes a peer-mentoring program in which prior patients who have had spinal injuries are certified and linked with current patients to help with rehabilitation and transition back into society.
For patients with spinal cord injuries, bowel and bladder control and training are critical to successful home rehabilitation. Patients and their caregivers will receive training to safeguard their safety and prevent subsequent health issues.
The following are some of our spinal cord injury programs:
- Adaptive Sports & Recreation
- Caregiver Training
- Driving Rehabilitation
- Nutritional Counseling Services
- Psychological Counseling
- Seating and Positioning Clinic
- Spinal Cord Injury & Related Disorders Day Treatment Program (SCI/D)
- Survivor Support Group
- Swallowing Disorders Therapy
- Voice and Breathing Rehabilitation
Our aim at Brooks Rehabilitation is to serve our community by providing high-quality treatment and facilitating ongoing growth and improvement in the rehabilitation profession. We endeavor to give our patients the finest rehabilitation experience possible so that they can reach their highest potential. Brooks will be there for you every step of the way.