Spinal Cord Injury

Every year, thousands of people face spinal cord paralysis as a result of traffic accidents, jumping into the sea and sports injuries. When trauma occurs on the spine, the vertebrae may break or slip. As a result of this fracture or displacement, the spinal cord and nerve tissue inside the spine may be injured. When the spinal cord, which makes our arms and legs move and feel, is injured, paralysis may occur either with full or partial inactivity and numbness.

Causes

Spinal cord injury and spinal cord paralysis usually occur as a result of injuries caused by traffic accidents and sporting events, falling down from a height, and involuntary jump into the sea and pool. Sometimes, injuries due to attacks and fights, such as stabbing or bullet-riddling, may also be seen. Other organ injuries associated with spinal cord injury may be life-threatening in such accidents. In such accidents, spinal cord damage and paralysis develop suddenly.

Spinal cord injury may sometimes be due to a hernia, tumor or infection that compresses the spinal cord. In this case, spinal cord damage and paralysis may develop in a long time.

Findings

The patient may have sudden neck, back or low back pain at the scene of the accident. Patients with sudden spinal cord paralysis cannot move their arms or legs. Similarly, they do not feel underneath the injury area. There are no urine and stool control. If the respiratory muscles are also paralyzed in the neck fractures, there will be respiratory distress. After the spinal cord is injured, he/she has a period of shock that can last from several hours to 6 weeks. It can sometimes be difficult to determine to what extent the spinal cord is damaged during this shock.

Treatment options

In an accident with spinal cord injury, it is very important to give immediate treatment and life support. The patient should be transported to the hospital quickly. The patient should be examined at the accident site and the spine should be immobilized with braces and corsets. If the respiratory muscles are also paralyzed in the neck fractures, there will be respiratory distress. In this case, it may be necessary to ventilate the patient with machines. Therefore, the first intervention at the scene of the accident is very important. Subsequently, the injured person as a result of the accident must be taken to a well-equipped trauma center. In addition, new technologies in surgical and medical treatment have led to great improvement in the quality of care, functional recovery, and in patient’s survival.

Is treatment possible in spinal cord paralysis?

Spinal cord injury is a complex injury. Here, nerve fibers that come from the brain and pass through our spinal cord to our muscles are injured. There is no drug treatment that can easily heal patients presenting to emergency clinics with spinal cord injury and stroke. However, there are many chances of intervention that can help these patients to recover in the hospital. Rapid surgical removal of spinal cord compression by emergency operations and rapid mobilization of patients significantly contribute to the recovery. This healing can be faster, especially if the spinal cord is not fully injured and the injury can be timely intervened. Bleeding and swelling into the spinal cord caused by the first impact can also repair itself over time. However, patients should receive good and continuous rehabilitation treatment throughout their lives. With this treatment, patients can recover even years after injury.

Rehabilitation and exercise

Patients with spinal cord paralysis may experience complications such as infections, urinary tract problems, progressive deformities in the spine, disruption of spinal cord’s stabilization and chronic pain in later life. Many innovations have emerged in the treatment of spinal cord injury, syringomyelia, treatment of spinal deformities and pain control.

These patients should be under the control of rehabilitation clinics throughout their lives and should not stop their exercise and medical controls. Because firstly, exercise and rehabilitation programs cause the release of healing factors in the patient’s nervous system. Secondly, with the exercise and rehabilitation programs, the joints of the patients are mobile and working. The importance of this, as this is strongly expected one day, if complete treatment is found and if the paralysis heals, our bodies will move with these healthy joints. Moreover, no one wants to give cellular treatment to a patient whose joints are frozen. The lungs and urinary tract got better and many infections are less common with the help of exercise and rehabilitation. Skin integrity and skin health can be maintained.

Stem cell in spinal cord paralysis

With the developing technology, stem cell therapy, which has become a frequently preferred treatment method in different branches of medicine, has been come into use in the treatment of spinal cord paralysis. The aim of stem cell therapy is to give stem cells to the patient to settle in the injured spinal cord region, to survive there and to transform into the necessary cells. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the stem cells placed in the spinal cord become functional and that the spinal cord becomes operational again. Thus, patients can move and feel their arms and legs again and gain control of urine and stool.

Many centers around the world have been conducting intensive experimental work to improve spinal cord injury, especially since the last 30 years. Some of these studies have reached the stage of clinical research. There are promising works in them. However, none of them has been the standard treatment.

Fend first (Think first)

We know that there is no definitive treatment for spinal cord paralysis and it is difficult to heal. Therefore, all precautions must be taken to avoid injury. The seatbelt should be properly worn while in traffic and the traffic rules must be strictly followed. One should not jump into the shallow pool and into the sea headlong. Necessary precautions should be taken while doing sports, protective helmets and apparatus should be used properly and be sure to be safe when jumping from a height.