You can suffer a spinal cord injury in various ways. While certain symptoms point directly to this type of injury, others could signal the existence of totally different conditions.
Imaging tests help doctors diagnosis spinal cord injuries and recommend next steps for patients.
The spinal cord injury explained
The vertebrae protects the spinal cord. It is a pathway of nerves that carries impulses originating in the brain to various parts of the body. The spinal cord is fragile and incapable of repairing itself if it sustains damage.
Cause and effect
You may suffer a spinal cord injury in a fall or when playing some kind of sport. It could result from an assault. However, almost half of the 12,000 spinal cord injuries suffered each year in our country result from vehicle crashes. Symptoms may include pain, loss of mobility or loss of sensation, such as the inability to feel cold or heat. Other symptoms are more subtle; for example, digestive problems, difficulty breathing, lack of bladder control or muscle spasms. There are two types of spinal cord injury: complete and incomplete. In the former condition, you would lose the ability to feel anything below the site of the injury. In the latter, you could still experience some level of functioning below the injury site.
Treatment for spinal cord injuries
Diagnostic tests to confirm the condition include CT scans, MRI, myelograms and Somatosensory Evoked Potential testing. The SSEP test shows whether nerve signals pass through the spinal cord.
If you were the victim of a minor car crash, you may not have imagined that your symptoms were consistent with a spinal cord injury. Currently, there is no way to reduce or reverse the damage the spinal cord suffers in an accident, although current research is showing encouraging results. In the meantime, your outlook may include hospitalization and a lengthy course of rehabilitation. Electrical stimulation can also help to restore or correct certain functions, such as bladder control or limb movements. While you focus on your health, a legal advocate can explore financial compensation on your behalf to cover the costs of current and future medical care.