Living with a Spinal Cord Injury: Expectations and Recovery

A spinal cord injury, or SCI, is usually caused by a violent blow to the head, back or spine. When vertebrae are fractured, the shattered bone fragments can tear the spinal cord. The spinal cord is usually not severed completely, but the damage disrupts the nerve cells that carry commands from the brain to the body. Virginia car accidents are a common cause of spinal cord injury, but disease, falls and other violence can also result in SCI. Depending on the extent of the damage, a victim of a spinal cord injury in DC can experience anywhere from complete recovery to total paralysis.

Measuring Functional Ability Following A Car Accident

To determine a patient’s functional ability after SCI, doctors and therapists may use the Functional Independence Measure (FIM). This measures physical response in 6 different categories:

  • Self-care: This includes bathing, dressing, and day-to-day tasks.
  • Home mobility: SCI patients may have trouble getting out of bed, walking, or sitting.
  • Locomotion: how the patient moves around in public, whether autonomously or in a wheelchair.
  • Communication: Speech ability after SCI may be impaired or lost completely.
  • Continence: The patient may have trouble controlling his bladder or bowels.
  • Social cognition: The patient may be unaware of or respond differently to social cues.

Patients are rated from 1 to 7 on each scale, where 1 would mean the patient relied completely on a caregiver, and 7 would mean the patient could perform the task on his own, without assistance. The numbers in between represent varying degrees of a patient’s independence. For instance, a patient scoring 3 on the Communication scale may require assistance from caregiver or aid from a speaking device.

There are a number of options for those coping with advanced spinal cord injury symptoms. Occupational therapy and rehabilitation have been proven to reduce the damage to the nervous system, and may even restore lost physical ability. Rehabilitation counselors and trained physical therapists perform both emotional and bodily support for SCI victims, combining everyday skills progression with happiness and mental wellbeing. These programs work to rebuild their patients self esteem and reintegrate them into the society they felt helpless in, vastly improving their quality of life.

While there is currently no cure for SCI, the most effective overall treatment is emergency care. Because the body’s nerve cells cannot be replaced, immediate action is needed to save the spinal cord from further damage. Steroids are often administered to SCI victims to help repair the nerve cells, but it is only effective if given within 8 hours of the accident.

You May Need A Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The time between injury and treatment is the number one factor determining the patient’s eventual outcome. If someone you love received significantly delayed treatment following a spinal cord injury, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced Fairfax medical malpractice attorney to determine if your family has suffered because of a physician’s mistakes. For immediate assistance, call our office at 703-691-5919.