Unfortunately, there is still no known way to reverse damage to the spinal cord.
Researchers are diligently working towards new prostheses and medications that could promote nerve cell regeneration or improve the function of the nerves remaining after a spinal cord injury.
Diagnosis Timeline for a Spinal Cord Injury
After a spinal cord injury, it is important to note that doctors may not be able to make an accurate prognosis right away. If it occurs, recovery will usually start between one week and six months after the injury.
If recovery occurs, it is mostly seen within the first six months. Some individuals with SCI will experience improvements for up to two years.
In-patient Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
Immediately following a spinal cord injury, the injured party is usually admitted to the intensive care unit.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
- What’s the prognosis?
- What will happen in the short term?
- What will happen over the long term?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects can be expected from treatment?
- Could surgery help?
- What type of rehabilitation might help?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
- What research is being done to help this condition?
- Do you have brochures or other printed material?
- Are there websites you recommend?
The spine may need to be realigned and/or stabilized. A special bed or ring collar can assist here.
Surgery is often necessary to remove fragments of bones, foreign objects, herniated disks or fractured vertebrae that are compressing the spine.
Surgery may also be needed to stabilize the spine to prevent future pain or deformity.
Outpatient Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries
After the injured party’s condition stabilizes, doctors can begin to work on preventing secondary problems that may arise.
The length of hospitalization post-injury depends on many factors.
Rehabilitation takes a team.
This team may include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a rehabilitation nurse, a rehabilitation psychologist, a social worker, a dietitian, a recreation therapist, and a physiatrist or spinal cord injuries.
During the initial stages of SCI rehabilitation, therapists will emphasize maintaining and strengthening the existing muscle function, redeveloping fine motor skills and learning adaptive techniques to accomplish daily tasks.
Mayo, 2017. Spinal cord injury. Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-cord-injury/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377895 [Accessed October 17, 2018].