If you or someone you know has been the victim of a spinal cord injury, you probably have a lot of questions about treatment and rehabilitation. How long will it take to recover? What will the process look like? Will I ever fully get better? While the specifics will depend on your unique situation, in today’s blog we offer an overview of the treatment and healing process of spinal cord injuries. Learn more below.
Spinal cord treatment falls into two broad categories: acute and rehabilitation. The acute phase refers to the period of stabilization immediately following a spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation refers to everything that comes after the patient has been stabilized and the patient must work toward the long road of recovery.
After a spinal cord injury occurs, it is crucial that the victim seeks immediate medical attention. When treatment is delayed, irreversible damage becomes more likely and the patient runs the risk of avoidable lifelong consequences. The patient will usually be sent to the Maryland hospital or medical center that is closest and equipped to handle spinal cord injuries.
During this period, most patients suffer from spinal shock which will dull their reflexes for several days. Because of this, it is often difficult to ascertain the exact nature and extent of the injuries so your doctor may not be able to offer a prognosis until shock has subsided.
The rehabilitation phase of treatment refers to the long road to recovery. Rehabilitation can begin as soon as the patient has been stabilized and no longer needs acute treatment. The goal of rehabilitation is to provide the patient with as much function as possible. It is impossible to predict what an individual’s treatment program will look like as it depends greatly on individual factors but they will generally offer the following support to the patient:
- Explaining the nature and consequences of their injury
- Assisting them in understanding the type of care they will need
- Offering physical therapy to help regain independence in activities such as bathing and dressing
- Helping them understand and accept the ways in which their life is permanently different due to their spinal cord injury