Cord Injury (SCI) is a traumatic injury of the spine that can cause
significant disability. Quadriplegia can result from injuries to the spinal
cord in the cervical region, with associated loss of muscle strength in both
arms and legs. Paraplegia is caused by injuries to the spinal cord in
the thoracic or lumbar areas, resulting in paralysis of the legs and lower part
of the body.
- Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, head or
- Tingling or loss of sensation in the hand,
fingers, feet or toes
- Partial or complete loss of control over any
part of the body
- Urinary or bowel urgency, incontinence or
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Abnormal band-like sensations in the chest,
including pain, pressure
- Impaired breathing after injury
- Unusual lumps on the head or spine
Treatment of SCI begins before
the patient is admitted to the hospital. Emergency medical personnel carefully
immobilize the entire spine at the scene of the accident.
Immobilization is continued in
the emergency department while more immediate life-threatening problems are
identified and addressed. If the patient must undergo emergency surgery because
of trauma to the abdomen, chest or another area, immobilization and alignment
of the spine are maintained during the operation.
Even if surgery cannot reverse
damage to the spinal cord, surgery may be needed to stabilize the spine to
prevent future pain or deformity.
Once a patient is stabilized, care and treatment focuses on supportive care and rehabilitation. Family members, nurses or specially trained aides all may provide supportive care.
Rehabilitation usually begins during the initial hospitalization and includes physical
therapy, occupational therapy and counseling for emotional support.