Spinal Trauma

Chronic Pain Roanoke VA

Trauma of the Spine

Spinal trauma, or spinal cord injury occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord blocking communication between the brain and the body. A spinal cord injury can occur anywhere in the spine and there are two main classifications of injury: complete and incomplete. There is a range within these classifications that identifies neurologic motor function and sensory function.

A complete spinal cord injury means that the spinal cord has been severed and that communication is totally blocked between the brain and body. The higher this occurs in the spine, the more body parts are affected. An incomplete spinal cord injury indicates that the spinal cord has not been completely severed, but damage has occurred such that communication between brain and body will be compromised.

Causes of Spinal Trauma

There are many ways to injure the spinal cord and the level of damage, as well as the location of damage, will determine the prognosis. Traumatic spinal injuries may arise from:

  • Car accidents
  • High-contact sports such as football
  • Falls
  • Gymnastics
  • Violence
  • Diving into shallow water

Treatment of Spinal Injury

Surgical repair of the broken vertebrae in the back may be required to stabilize the injury and reduce further damage. After surgery, a rehabilitation period including counseling, daily physical therapy, and skill-building activities will produce the best outcome for the patient. The effects of spinal trauma can be periodic or lifelong including:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation
  • Loss of bowel/bladder control

Medicine is constantly advancing for patients with spinal cord injury. Some of the advancements in this area include:

  • New medications
  • Stem cell therapy to encourage regeneration of neurons
  • Brain computer interface (BCI) to bypass the damaged nerve and establish an alternate route of communication between brain and body.   
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