The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is motor vehicle accidents, followed by acts of violence, falls, sports injuries, diving accidents and other causes.
– Pressure or pain at the site of the injury (neck, head or back)
– Loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet and toes
– Inability to control movements in some parts of the body
– Urinary or bowel urgency, incontinence, or retention
– Difficulty walking
– Unusual sensations in the thorax
– Difficulty breathing
– Abnormal lumps on the head or spine
It is possible to bruise the spinal cord without suffering any paralysis or loss of feeling. A trauma to the spinal cord usually causes swelling and/or scarring which results in cutting off communication between the brain and the body. However, sometimes the flow of messages is not interrupted or broken. As a result, such a spinal cord injury does not result in the loss of functions and/or paralysis.
At the time of the injury and the first few days/weeks after the injury the body is in a so-called state of “spinal shock” (reaction of your body to the injury, where all communication between the spinal cord and the rest of the body temporarily shuts off below the level of the injury). During the period of spinal shock there is usually swelling in and around the spinal cord. As the healing process occurs and the swelling begins to go down the individual may regain some sensation and function that was initially lost. Individuals with an incomplete injury have a greater likelihood for more extensive recovery than those with complete injuries.
There are two different types of spinal cord injury treatments: the treatment during the acute care following the injury and the methods for reducing the extent of injury and for restoring function. Advances in acute care are outstanding and they include techniques to relieve cord compression, extensive drug therapy to minimize cell damage, and stabilization of the vertebrae of the spine to prevent further injury. On the other hand, progress in treatments aimed to cure the injury are promising but still limited currently.
Presently there is no cure for spinal cord injury. However, there have been many advances in the laboratories around the world. Only ten years ago the belief in a cure for spinal cord injury was thought to be a false hope. Now, most people in the lay and scientific community recognize that it is no longer a question of IF there will be a cure for paralysis, but a question of WHEN.
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Office: 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 601, Toronto, ON, M4P 2Y3