Spinal cord injuries can be one of the most devastating types of injury a person can survive, and in many cases, the prognosis is one that will mean lifelong changes. Spinal injuries are most common in young men and are often the result of violent incidents that cause trauma to the spine, vehicle accidents, or sports accidents, especially where extreme or combat sports are involved.
Because spinal injuries are usually the result of accidents or the patient being the victim of violent trauma, there is not much a person can do by way of prevention, other than being sure to use the safest possible equipment for sports and to drive as safely as possible using a well-maintained vehicle. The fact that spinal injury is something sudden, unexpected, and often life changing means that in almost all cases, the patient will need more than just medical assistance directly related to their physical injury to recover as much as possible and adjust to life after the incident.
Here are some of the most important elements of care needed by people with injuries like anterior cord syndrome:
As with most injuries, some physical therapy will be required, and how intensive this will need to be will depend on the type of spinal injury and the prognosis. With anterior cord injury, it is uncommon for full sensation and mobility to return, however patients who show signs of sensation returning in the first 24 hours may stand a chance of regaining normal mobility with the right course of physical therapy. Even with people whose prognosis suggests permanent paralysis in the region below the injury, physical therapy can help preserve muscle tone and also help them adjust their bodies to new ways of getting around, such as using a wheelchair.
Many spinal injuries are the result of traumatic experiences, and this is something that will need to be addressed alongside the physical treatment required. Even if there was no trauma, the patient may well be having trouble coping with their prognosis, as well as with any pain they are experiencing, and may be in a negative place emotionally – particularly if they either have a long recovery process ahead of them or are looking at permanent paralysis. It is just as important in helping the patient regain a good quality of life to provide help with their mental health as with other aspects of their treatment.
Spinal injuries do not always cause severe pain, as in some cases nerve damage means that the patient loses sensation altogether. However, other back injuries can be extremely painful and will require a proper pain management approach supervised by medical staff. It may also be the case that the incident that caused the injury also caused damage to other parts of the body, and so pain management can be a concern in these scenarios too.
Adjusting to life after a spinal injury is a difficult process, and so it is important that both medical staff working with the patient and their friends and family understand what they need and can work together to help them.