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What does the future hold for spinal cord injury victims?

If a Louisianan is involved in an accident, they struggle both financially and physically through the recovery process. Car accidents, falls, violence, sports injuries and other types of trauma can cause spinal cord injuries. In fact, there are a reported 12,000 new spinal cord injury cases every year. In 2008, approximately 259,000 people in the United States were living with a spinal cord injury (SCI).

SCIs occur when there is a traumatic injury that results in a bruise or tear in the spinal cord. These occur more frequently in men and young adults. As a result, those suffering from an SCI may see a decrease or absence of body movement, sensations and organ function below the level of the injury. The higher the level of the injury, the more severe the person's symptoms will be.

Spinal injuries are classified as complete injuries or incomplete injuries. Complete injuries mean that there is a lack of function below the level of injury. Incomplete injuries involve some function below the level of injury. Some Louisiana accident victims will become paraplegic. Those suffering from paraplegia will experience a loss of movement and sensation in their legs. Quadriplegics, on the other hand, will experience a loss of sensation and movement in both their arms and legs.

There is however a potential for rehabilitation, depending on the severity and type of impairments, overall health of the patient and family support. For example, if the level of injury is L1-L5, it is possible that the person is paraplegic with some degree of movement in their legs. Therefore, with rehabilitation, they may be able to walk short distances with a device to assist them. Rehabilitation programs may cover self-care skills, physical care, mobility skills, vocational training, psychological counseling and various other treatments.

Source: HopkinsMedicine.org, "Spinal Cord Injury," accessed on Feb. 29, 2016

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