Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Sustaining a spinal cord injury is a life changing event, especially if that injury leads to paralysis. Disability can be painful and confusing, leaving spinal cord injury survivors wondering how their injury will impact their relationships, career, everyday activities and long term happiness. A person faced with paralysis will go through a spectrum of emotions including denial, grief, anger, and, finally, acceptance. Although it is a long and difficult process, treatment and spinal cord injury rehabilitation allow many people with spinal cord injuries to lead productive, fulfilling and independent lives.

In his autobiography, A World to Care For (Random House, 1977), the ‘grandfather of rehabilitation,’ Dr. Howard Rusk wrote, “…once a person overcomes a disability through his own courage, determination and hard work, he has a depth of spirit you and I know little about… [This] is a branch of medicine in which the patient has more power than the doctor in setting the limits and possibilities . . . .

Treatment and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

The time between the initial injury and treatment is a critical factor that can have a large effect on the extent of complications as well as the level of recovery. In the early stages of a spinal cord injury, immediate treatment might include medications, immobilization and surgery. After the initial injury stabilizes, attention is turned to long-term and ongoing care. Depending on the cause of the injury and extent of paralysis, hospitalization may last from several days to several weeks. While at the hospital, a spinal cord injury rehabilitation team will work with a patient in improving their remaining muscle strength.

Therapy that is begun inside the hospital will continue in a spinal cord injury rehabilitation facility where therapists give counseling and assistance on a wide range of topics that a victim of spinal cord injury and their family are dealing with today and will likely face in the future. Other than level of injury, the type of rehab facility chosen has the largest effect on long term survival.

Coping During Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

If you or someone you love has sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury, the future can seem daunting. Coping with paralysis is very difficult; however, there are some things that can and must be done to ensure long term success and independence. These include:

Educate yourself and others around you: In order to regain control of your life after a traumatic spinal cord injury, it is imperative that you educate yourself about your injury. As you adjust to your disability, familiarize yourself with the wide range of equipment and modification products available today that will assist you in reclaiming an independent life. Also important in spinal cord injury rehabilitation is teaching those around you about the facts of your disability. Talking about your paralysis with loved ones can help ease the tension and difficulty that comes with adjusting to such a change. Being open and straightforward about your injury and how it affects you might not be easy at first, but it will often strengthen relationships with family and friends, making coping with the sudden change more manageable. The Internet is a great source of information. Below are a few reliable and informative web sites regarding spinal cord injuries:

Seek support: An essential part of spinal cord injury rehabilitation is to seek out and build a strong network of support. The following are just a few websites that offer forums and communities made up of spinal cord injury survivors and their families. These forums give those affected by a spinal cord injury the opportunity to share their stories and can be very helpful in opening the door to conversation, education, and connections that will help make coping with a spinal cord injury manageable.

Focus on what can be done: New technologies, treatments and devices can help you focus on the things you can do when living with paralysis. In fact, due to this modern engineering, spinal cord injury survivors are able to not only accomplish necessary daily activities without any assistance, but many can participate in and accomplish activities for pleasure and fun, including sporting events. Inventive and ingenious medical devices allow people with paralysis to become more independent, more mobile, and more active. Modern wheelchairs are light, comfortable, and made strong enough to travel over rough terrain. Some can even climb stairs or elevate passengers to eye level, making it easier to reach high places without help. Also, computer devices and other gadgets are wonderful at assisting with common day-to-day tasks. Computer-controlled gadgets can help with cleaning, reading, bathing, dressing and grooming while voice-activated computer technology allows you to communicate person-to-person or to dial and/or answer a telephone.

Have hope: Fifty years ago, the prognosis for those having suffered a spinal cord injury was bleak. Today, faster and fuller spinal cord injury rehabilitation is made possible by advances in stem cell research and nerve cell regeneration. Scientists and doctors are constantly directing their focus to biomedical devices and novel forms of spinal cord injury rehabilitation. These new and advancing technologies are already restoring some measure of independence to those with severe spinal cord injuries. It is unclear when research will find a cure for SCI, but today you can remain confident, while living your life to the fullest, that the future of SCI research will yield some answers.

Click here for a list of clinical trials and latest journal articles about spinal cord injuries.

Cost Associated With a Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord injury cost can be overwhelming. Individuals with spinal cord injury have many additional living expenses which might include rehabilitation, medication, assistive devices and equipment needed for mobility. Only 52 percent of spinal cord injury survivors have health insurance at the time of their injury, leading to many questions regarding the spinal cord injury cost of treatment and rehabilitation. Some people may be eligible for economic assistance from the state or federal government. There are also many charitable organizations that offer economic support to those facing seemingly overwhelming expenses.

Spinal Cord Injury Cost Statistics

Spinal cord injury cost, on a national level, is an estimated $9.7 billion each year. The annual cost of treating pressure sores alone is estimated at $1.2 billion.

Spinal cord injuries very often require lifetime care, including health care. Depending upon the People who suffer a spinal cord injury can also face difficult challenges to achieve employment, making it even more difficult to take on the added expenses associated with SCI care.severity of the injuries and individual needs, spinal cord injury cost, alone, can often run into the millions of dollars.

People who suffer a spinal cord injury can also face difficult challenges to achieve employment, making it even more difficult to take on the added expenses associated with SCI care.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, Birmingham, Alabama, 57.5% of those persons with SCI admitted to an SCI Model System, reported being employed at the time of their injury. At post injury year one, 11.5% of persons with SCI are employed. By post injury year 20, 35.4% are employed.

Spinal Cord Injury Cost Links:

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance: National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center

Neurotrauma and Critical Care of the Spine: Jack Jallo, Alexander R. Vaccaro; Thieme Medical Publishers