The severity of a spinal cord injury determines the likelihood of a person’s recovery. Unfortunately, the spinal cord is one of the regions of the body that may be damaged without the likelihood of much recovery. While quick thinking following an accident may help a victim recover some sensation or movement below the point of an injury, it’s just as likely for a spinal cord injury to result in a victim’s permanent injury or disability.
The prognosis of a severe spinal cord injury may vary depending on a few factors such as the:
- Completeness of the injury
- Level of the injury
- Secondary complications the patient has suffered
- Development of spinal shock
To start with, the completeness of the injury plays a role in how severe the injury is. A complete injury means that the spinal cord has been severed or damaged all the way across. An incomplete injury is different because there are still areas of the spinal cord that may transmit information.
With a complete injury, anything below the point of the injury will be paralyzed and numb. With incomplete injuries, there may be some strength or movement in the region.
It’s also possible for victims to suffer from secondary complications. For example, patients may develop:
- Respiratory complications
- Sexual dysfunction
- Autonomic dysreflexia
These and other complications may influence how much a victim of a spinal injury is able to recover.
How does spinal shock play a role in spinal cord injuries?
Spinal shock can cause a temporary loss of control, sensation and reflexes below the point of an injury. This is caused by swelling.
This is why it’s very important for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries to get medical attention rapidly. The sooner that pressure is taken off the spinal cord, the better the outcome for many people. Initially, what may seem like a complete injury may actually be an incomplete injury. Incomplete injuries may resolve, in some cases, completely. Stabilizing the spinal cord can help reduce the likelihood of spinal shock or treat it if it does occur.
Victims in traffic collisions or other accidents need to know that urgent medical care is important. If you get hurt, seek medical attention. Then, when you’re able, you can look into making a personal injury claim.