On Your Side After An Injury

Navigating life with a spinal cord injury

Injury to the spinal cord, which can result from auto accidents, falls, and other impacts to the head and neck, leads to significant disability. Understanding the physical and mental health effects of this type of injury can help guide the path forward.

Review the expected outcomes, treatments and potential complications if you or a loved one has a spinal cord injury.

Impact of spinal cord injuries

According to the Mayo Clinic, the location of the injury determines a person’s symptoms. Damage to the spinal cord may result in breathing problems, chronic pain, infertility, sexual dysfunction, spastic movement, bladder or bowel incontinence, loss of physical sensation, and impaired or lost mobility.

Complications include increased risk for blood clots, pneumonia, pressure sores and resulting infection, lost muscle tone, diabetes, cardiovascular health issues such as high blood pressure, and even obesity resulting from a sedentary lifestyle. Many people who have spinal cord injuries also struggle with mental health issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Physical and occupational rehabilitation

After the medical team successfully stabilizes a person with a spinal cord injury, he or she begins physical rehabilitation. During this process, you will learn to use mobility devices such as a wheelchair, manage bowel or bladder incontinence, and perform activities of daily living such as dressing and hygiene. The extent of necessary rehabilitation depends on the extent of the injury.

When spinal cord injury results from an at-fault auto accident, the injured person can file a legal claim to potentially recoup the ongoing cost of expensive medical needs.