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Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury is anything that damages the spinal cord that brings about a loss of mobility, feeling and/or function. A spinal cord injury can be the result of something traumatic like falling, being in an automobile accident, being shot or being hit in the back. A spinal cord injury may also be due a disease such as polio or spina bifida.

People who are not educated about spinal cord injuries may assume that it involves the severing of the spinal cord. That is not true. Individuals can have a spinal cord injury and still have intact spinal cords. In fact, most individuals who do suffer from a spinal cord injury do not have their spinal cords severed. It is important to note that a spinal cord injury does not include slipped or ruptured discs, pinched nerves or spinal stenosis. Likewise, someone can have a neck injury and not have a spinal cord injury.

The effects that someone will have from a spinal cord injury will be incumbent upon the level of the injury and the type of injury. The level of the injury is the location of the injury on the spinal cord. Depending upon where the injury to the spine is located will often dictate the severity and effects of the injury on the individual. Spinal cord injuries are generally divided into two different categories, either incomplete or complete. To be classified as an incomplete spinal cord injury means that the individual does have some sort of functioning below the injury level. For instance, an individual may still have some feeling in his or her body and/or be able to move parts of their body and/or have more sensation and functioning on one side of their body than on the other side of their body. A complete spinal cord injury means that the individual has no feeling or ability to function in the parts of their body below the injury. There is no movement and no feeling, period. Fortunately, as research continues and treatment of spinal injuries becomes more advance incomplete injuries are more common.

Statistics tells us that in the United States alone there are approximately 450,000 to 475,000 individuals who live with a spinal cord injury. The numbers go on to report that nearly 10,000 new cases are reported each year. The majority of spinal cord injuries occur to males who are under 35, with automobile accidents being the leading cause of the injuries. Violence and falls come in second and third for the cause of spinal cord injuries.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for someone who has suffered from a spinal cord injury. However, research continues and the medical community is working diligently to find a cure. To date advances have been made that are helping to decrease the damage of an injury at the time it occurs. Using steroid drugs to help control swelling is one such advance that has been made. Seeing as the swelling that occurs after a spinal cord injury is a common cause of many secondary problems, this is a step in the right direction in regards to treating spinal cord injuries.

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