Common Causes Of Spinal Cord Injury
Though there are a variety of ways to injure your spinal cord, most tend to fall within one of these 3 categories.
Motor vehicle accidents. Both auto and motorcycle accidents remain the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Due to the often neck and head jerking reaction that often occurs in an auto accident, it is all too easy to hurt and injury your spine. It is even worse for motorists who are less protected and end up feeling the full force of the collision. These type of accidents currently account for 35 percent of spinal cord injuries every year.
Slip and falls. For those who are 65 years old or older, slip and falls become the most likely cause of spinal cord injuries. Older adults are often much more fragile than young adults are. This makes it a lot easier for them to break or injury their bones. Issues with movement, which can be common among older adults, also increases their risk of slipping and falling. Overall, slip and falls cause about 25 percent of all spinal cord injuries every year.
Violent acts. Sadly, around 15 percent of spinal cord injuries are a result of a violent encounter, often involving gunshot or knife wounds. Unlike the first two, these are not accidents and are much harder to protect yourself from. Though these victims survived the attack, their lives are forever changed in more than one way.
Symptoms And Side Effects Of A Spinal Cord Injury
The severity of a spinal cord injury is often refer to it's “completeness”. When almost all feeling and all ability to control movement are lost below the spinal cord, this is referred to as being “complete”. If you still have some of your motor or sensory function below the injured area, your injury is “incomplete”.
In addition, paralysis from a spinal cord injury may be referred to as either Tetraplegia or Paraplegia. Tetraplegia, also known as Quadriplegia, means that your hands, arms, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are all affected by your injury. However, Paraplegia means that this paralysis affects all or part of your trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.
Spinal cord injury of any severity may result in one or more of the following signs or symptoms:
- • Loss of sensation, including being able to feel cold, heat and touch
- • Loss of movement
- • Loss of bladder or bowel control
- • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs
- • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
- • Pain or an intense stinging sensation due to the damaged nerve fibers in your spinal cord
- • Changes in sexual sensitivity, function and fertility
Anyone who has experienced significant trauma to their head or neck or has been in an accident needs to seek immediate medical attention. A serious spinal injury or other types of traumatic injury are not always obvious at first and hesitating to get medical treatment will only worsen the injury. Even symptoms like numbness or paralysis may not develop immediately.
If you suspect that someone has a neck or back injury, don't move them! Moving the injured person could result in permanent paralysis or other serious complications. Call 911 immediately for medical attention. While your waiting for medical assistance, make sure to keep the person still. In order to do so, you can place heavy towels on both sides of the neck to hold the head and neck in place. If you do not have heavy towels nearby, holding their head and neck with your hands to keep them from moving will also help.