If you or a loved one sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident, it is important to understand the types of treatment options that may be available to you. Innovations in medical surgery, stem cell therapy, and adaptive devices and prosthetics have all revolutionized the way in which spinal cord injuries are understood and treated today.
The Mayo Clinic provides a comprehensive overview of spinal cord injuries, and explains that there are currently no medical interventions that can undo damage that has occurred to the spinal cord. The treatment options that do exist for treating spinal cord injuries concentrate on preventing further damage and promoting rehabilitation and independence.
Stages of Treatment
One of the most crucial medical treatments that can and should be immediately administered to a spinal cord injury victim is the immobilization of the spine. Preventing the accident victim from moving immediately following an accident is critical to preventing his or her spine from sustaining any further damage.
Once the injury victim has been transported to the hospital, doctors and medical personnel can begin to administer acute stages of treatment. Diagnostic tests are conducted at this point, and the primary focus of physicians is to prevent further spinal cord damage and avoid any complications from taking place. This often involves ensuring that the patient's respirations are stable and that his or her spine is properly aligned. It is also at the acute stage of treatment that IV medications may be administered in an effort to reduce inflammation and nerve cell damage. Many spinal cord injury patients undergo surgery to stabilize and/or decompress the spine. More experimental treatments, such as stem cell therapy, are also often administered once the patient's medical condition is determined to be stable.
Providing for a spinal cord injury patient's long-term care and rehabilitation is another integral part of the treatment process. Preventing secondary medical issues like blood clots, respiratory infections, and muscle contractures is top priority once the patient's condition is stabilized. Rehabilitation may also begin at this point, and can include everything from strengthening muscle function to learning how to use assistive technologies to enhancing fine motor skills.