If you or someone you know have suffered from spinal cord injury or spinal cord paralysis, you’d know how it can affect every aspect of your life!
The term ‘spinal cord injury’ refers to the damage caused to any part of spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal often causing permanent changes in the strength, sensation and usage at the site of the injury.
Spinal cord paralysis could be complete or incomplete and result in one or more of the following signs:
- Loss of movement
- Pain or intense tingling sensation
- Loss of altered sensation including the ability to feel hot or cold in the area
- Extreme pain or pressure in the back or neck area
- Difficulty with balance or walking
- Weakness or incoordination in any part of the body
The following can all result in spinal cord injury:
- a violent attack such as a stab wound or a gunshot
- diving into water that’s too shallow and colliding with the bottom
- trauma during a vehicle accident, specifically trauma to the face, head, and neck region, back, or chest area
- Fall from a height
- head or spinal injuries during sporting events
- electrical accidents
- extreme twisting of the middle portion of the torso
Spinal Cord Injury Diagnosis
If you suspect a person has suffered a spinal cord injury, immediately take that person to hospital. When the person arrives at the hospital, medical experts will do a physical and complete neurological exam. This will help them determine whether there’s a spinal cord injury and where. Diagnostics tools that doctors may use include CT scans, MRIs, X-rays of the spine and evoked potential testing, which measures how quickly nerve signals reach the brain.
Spinal cord paralysis:
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves and other tissue that the human vertebrae contains and protects. The spinal cord sends messages from the brain to all parts of the body. It also sends messages from the body to the brain. Humans are able to perceive pain and move our limbs because of messages sent through the spinal cord. Due to a spinal cord injury, some or all of these impulses may not be able to get transmitted. The result is a complete or total loss of sensation and mobility below the injury, a spinal cord paralysis. A spinal cord injury closer to the neck will usually cause spinal cord paralysis throughout a larger part of the body than one in the lower back area.
Different kinds of paralysis:
Spinal cord paralysis can be complete or partial. With there being so many ways in which injury or damage can be caused to the spinal cord, here are the four main categories that concern the different parts of the body:
This type of paralysis usually occurs when only one part or limb is rendered immobile. It can be temporary in nature and could be a result of stroke or brain injury where the affected nerves are saved from being totally severed. With the help of regular physiotherapy, patient can regain normal functioning of the affected body part.
It is a form of paralysis that occurs as a result of brain injury and can be both congenital and acquired in nature. A person who suffers from this form of paralysis, show signs of negative impact on their face, arm, and leg on the same side of the body. The severity of the problem can range from mild to severe and can depend on other lifestyle related factors as well. Though curable with the help of physical therapy and massages, it can take slightly more time to recover from this condition.
This form of paralysis affects the body below the waist. Its cause can differ from case to case but among its most known causes is spinal cord injury. It is usually followed by loss of use and feeling in the affected areas. It is considered uncommon to recover from this form of paralysis, however, intensive care and physical therapy are known to help patients suffering from it perform day to day functions with ease.
This form of paralysis happens below the neck area and is also known as tetraplegia. Occasionally considered to be a temporary condition or as a result of a brain injury or stroke; with rigorous physical therapy and with the help of intensive care, patients are to recover from this form of paralysis.
Physiotherapy treatment for Spinal Cord Injury
A physiotherapy treatment program usually has two components:
- Passive physical therapy to help reduce the patient’s pain
- Active exercises
- Passive Physiotherapy
In these therapies, the physiotherapist may focus on decreasing pain with passive physical therapies like: Heat/ice packs
Heat and/or ice are easily available and they together help reduce muscle spasm and inflammation. Some patients find more pain relief with heat therapy using heat packs and others with cold therapy such as ice massage. The two may also be alternated. They are generally applied for 10-20 minutes once every two hours, and are more useful early on (the first few days) in the course of an episode of pain.
TENS Units for Electrotherapy
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) unit uses electrical stimulation to modulate the sensation of low back pain by overriding the painful signals that are sent to the brain. A trial of electrotherapy with the TENS unit is usually done first, and if the patient experiences substantial pain relief, a TENS unit may be used at home for low back pain relief on a long-term basis.
Lontophoresis is a means of delivering steroids through the skin. The steroids then produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the general area that is causing pain. This treatment is especially effective in relieving acute episodes of pain.
Ultrasound is a form of deep heating in which sound waves are applied to the skin and penetrate into the soft tissues. Ultrasound is especially useful in relieving acute episodes of pain and may enhance tissue healing.
2. Active Physiotherapy (Back pain exercises)
In addition to passive therapies, active physical therapy for spinal injury patients is also necessary. Generally, a patient’s back exercise program should include stretching exercises for all the relevant muscle groups along with core strengthening exercises. Patients must learn these exercises from their therapists and practice regularly at home. This is an important part of physiotherapy treatment.
Preventing spinal cord injuries
Because spinal cord injuries are often due to unpredictable happenings, the best a person can do is reduce his/ her risk. Some risk-reducing steps include:
- Always wearing a seatbelt while in a vehicle
- Wearing the correct protective gear while playing sports
- Never diving into water body unless you’ve made sure it’s deep enough and does not have rocks
Spinal cord paralysis recovery with physiotherapy at home:
At HealthCare atHOME, we have a team of trained and experienced physiotherapists who are best equipped to provide word-class treatment to deal with spinal cord paralysis by creating customised plans suited for your individual needs. From helping you regain mobility to suggesting exercises that would strengthen your muscles; our professional physiotherapist will help you with spinal cord paralysis recovery in lesser time. You can get more details on physiotherapy at home by calling on our toll-free number 1800-102-4224.