Most of us know that the spinal cord is part of the back. But did you know that it’s actually column of nerves?
Most of us think of the spinal cord as a set of bones, but the bones are the spinal column, which is a set of 33 vertebrae stacked on top of one another to provide support for your body and allow you to move without harming the column of nerves known as the spinal cord.
Unfortunately, despite the protection of all those bones, spinal cord injuries happen all the time. They range from mild to severe, and can even be fatal. Some causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Sports injuries
- Congenital medical issues
Types of spinal cord injuries
Incomplete spinal cord injuries refer to the partial severing of the spinal cord. These account for nearly two thirds of all spinal cord injuries and result in the injured person retaining some function. Complete spinal cord injuries, on the other hand, refer to the complete severing of the spinal cord.
spinal cord injury recovery is determined by the location and severity of the injury. The spinal cord has four distinct regions, each consisting of a different number of vertebrae.
The cervical spinal cord (neck) has 8 vertebrae. The thoracic spinal cord (mid back) has 12 vertebrae. The lumbar spinal cord (lower back) consists of 5 vertebrae.
And the sacral spine (connecting spine to the hip bones) contains 5 vertebrae fused together. The coccyx, or tailbone, consists of a single vertebra.
Cervical spinal cord injuries are potentially the most severe. They can result in:
- Difficulty breathing
- Impaired ability to speak
- Inability to control bowel movements
- The need for 24-hour care and assistance with bathing, dressing, and eating
Thoracic spinal cord injuries affect the lower body, but even at their worst, they leave patients with the use of their arms, chest, and upper back.
Thoracic spinal cord injuries can result in:
- Inability to control bladder and bowel
- The need for mobility assistance
Lumbar spinal cord injuries
Lumbar spinal cord injuries affect the lower portion of the body and can impede hip bending, knee-straightening, and toe extension. They can result in:
- Loss of function in the hips and legs
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- The need for mobility assistance
Sacral spinal cord injuries also affect the lower portion of the body, including the hips, groin, buttocks, and backs of thighs. They can result in:
- Loss of function in leg and hips
- Inability to control bowels and bladder
Rehabilitation treatments for spinal cord injuries
At present, there are no known ways to reverse spinal cord damage. But health care providers may use surgery, medication, steroids, and rehabilitative therapies to treat patients suffering from spinal cord injuries. In some cases, these treatments can even help patients regain lost functioning.
Physical and occupational therapies can be particularly helpful in recovery from spinal cord damage. Physical therapy can help patients regain or maintain muscle strength, coordination, and mobility.
Occupational therapy can help patients learn to adapt with the use of assistive devices and environmental modifications.
For patients whose speech and communication have been impaired by a spinal cord injury, speech therapy can also provide a rehabilitative effect. Recreational therapies can help patients stay engaged with life and maintain a positive outlook and a high quality of life.
Bella Vista offers rehabilitative therapies for spinal cord injuries
If you or someone you love is in need of rehabilitative therapies following a spinal cord injury, you’ve come to the right place.
At Bella Vista Health Center in San Diego, our team includes compassionate medical professionals and health practitioners who are skilled and experienced in a range of therapeutic modalities.
All patients at Bella Vista receive a customized treatment plan designed to help them recover and return to their lives as quickly as possible.
For more information on our programs and services, call us at (619) 644-1000 or come see us in Lemon Grove today.