When a spinal cord injury is caused due to trauma, the body goes
into a state known as spinal shock. While spinal shock begins
within a few minutes of the injury, it make take several hours
before the full effects occur. During spinal shock the nervous
system is unable to transmit signals, some of which may return
once spinal shock has subsided, the time spinal shock lasts for
is approximately 4-6 weeks following the injury. In some rare
cases spinal cord shock can last for several more months.
The loss of these signals will effect the persons movement,
sensation and how well the body’s systems function. Often the
persons loss of movement and sensation below the level of the
spinal cord injury may appear complete soon after the injury.
This may mask the real extent of the damage. Usually, over the
first few weeks the some of body systems adjust to the effects
of the injury and their function improves. Therefore, during
this time and the early stage of ANY new injury it is unlikely
that an accurate prediction of any recovery or permanent
paralysis can be made.
Treatment begins with the emergency
medical personnel who make an initial evaluation and immobilise
the patient for transport. Immediate medical care within the
first 8 hours following injury is critical to the patient's
recovery. Nowadays there is much greater knowledge about the
moving and handling of spinal injury patients. Incorrect
techniques used at this stage could worsen the injuries
When injury occurs and for a period of time thereafter, the
spinal cord responds by swelling. Treatment starts with steroid
drugs, these can be administered at the scene by an air
ambulance Doctor or trained paramedic. These drugs reduce
inflammation in the injured area and help to prevent further
damage to cellular membranes that can cause nerve death. Sparing
nerves from further damage and death is crucial.
Each patient's injury is unique. Some patients require surgery
to stabilise the spine, correct a gross misalignment, or to
remove tissue causing cord or nerve compression. Spinal
stabilisation often helps to prevent further damage. Some
patients may be placed in traction and the spine allowed to heal
naturally. Every injury is unique as is the course of post
injury treatment that follows.
- Rehabilitation Functional