Spinal Cord Injury
What are the treatments for the injury?
Treatment of an SCI is tailored to the injury, because each case is unique.
Steroids, such as methylprednisolone, can reduce swelling. If the spine is
spinal fusion, or joining the bones of the spine with surgery, may
be needed. This can stabilize the injury and shorten the recovery period.
Rehabilitation often takes a long time. The goal is to achieve the most
function and independence possible. Some experimental medicines are being used
to reduce scarring at the injury site. They may improve regrowth of
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Steroids can cause high blood glucose levels and increased risk for
infection. Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to
What happens after treatment for the injury?
Without proper treatment, many complications can occur.
People with an SCI are at high risk for bedsores because they lack
sensation and movement below the injury level.
Kidney infections and kidney stones may result from a loss of
Respiratory problems, such as pneumonia, are sometimes seen when the
injuries involve the neck.
People with quadriplegia may have trouble controlling body temperature,
blood pressure, and heart rate.
people can relearn ways to control their body and how to do activities. It is
possible to go back to normal activities, such as school, work, marriage, and
having children. Usually, the person will use a wheelchair. There are special
tools that help with tasks such as eating and getting dressed. Doctors who work
in rehabilitation, urology, orthopedics, neurology, and other specialties may
be needed to provide complete treatment. The person may benefit from physical therapy and occupational therapy.
The financial and emotional costs to society of spinal trauma are great.
Medical costs during the first year after leaving the hospital can be more than
$50,000 per person. These costs decrease only slightly after the first year.
Because of complications, only 85% of people with cord injury are alive 10
years after being injured. This compares to 98% of uninjured people of similar
age and gender.
Only 35% of paraplegics and 25% of
quadriplegics are employed 8 years after the injury. Marriage rates are lower.
Divorce rates are higher. People with SCIs can feel isolated. They may need
psychological counseling. Many laws have been created to give more help to
people with disabilities. These laws will continue to make it easier for them
to work and be productive members of society.