People with SCI may benefit from rehabilitation
- Physical therapy is geared toward muscle strengthening, communication, and mobility.
- Use of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces.
- Use of adaptive devices for communication.
- Occupational therapy focused on fine motor skills.
What is incomplete spinal cord injury?
Incomplete spinal cord injury is a condition in which there is some kind of neural pathways which remain functional below the affected site.
There may be the possibility of gaining neuromuscular function in the body after neurorehabilitation for several months.
Moreover, the body tries to rejuvenate the neural pathways by itself- a process known as neuroplasticity.
In a complete spinal cord injury, the sensation and motor function are completely lost below the site of injury. The neural pathways are completely damaged and there is less chance of recovery.
What are the causes of incomplete spinal cord injuries?
The causes of incomplete spinal cord injuries are below
- Vehicle accident
- Surgical Incidents
What are the different types of incomplete spinal cord injuries?
1. Anterior Cord Syndrome
In anterior cord syndrome, the anterior spinal artery ( which runs through the anterior part of the spinal cord) is damaged and there is no muscle function below the point of injury.
However, there may be some sensation of touch below the point of injury, since the anterior part of the spinal cord is only affected. Anterior Cord Syndrome cases are difficult to treat.
2. Central Cord Syndrome
In Central Cord Syndrome, the central part of the spinal cord is affected. This may happen due to hyperextension of the neck ( abrupt forward and then backward movement of the neck).
There is paralysis of the upper limb region, but lower limbs may not be affected. Loss of bladder control can happen due to this syndrome. There is a need for long time hospital stay as a result of this syndrome.
3. Posterior Cord Syndrome
Posterior Cord Syndrome is less common than anterior and central cord syndrome. In this syndrome, the back part of the spinal cord gets injured.
There are fewer problems related to motor functions and muscle movement, but sensory function is often lost due to the injury.
4. Brown-Sequard Syndrome
In this type of syndrome, either the left side or the right side of the spinal cord is affected.
One side of the body remains functional with motor activities while the affected side may not have sensory and motor activities.
What are the treatment options for incomplete spinal cord injury?
Medication is an important treatment option to control pain and inflammation. Surgery may be required to relieve the nerves from the pressure of the damaged vertebral column or vertebral bones.
An immobilization therapy using traction or neck braces and collars may be provided to stabilize the spinal cord.
Recent development like hypothermia or lowering the body temperature to control inflammation is also recommended
The physiotherapist will help you to improve your motor skills through various therapies including exercises.
Nowadays, advanced wheelchairs are electronically operated to climb heights or ride on rough roads. Some devices are voice-controlled and can switch on computers or electric devices easily. Electrical stimulators can help to control hand and leg movement to some extent.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for incomplete spinal cord injury in the conventional treatment regimes.
Sometimes, people respond to exercises and physical therapy but that can take a long period of time.
Stem cell therapy for incomplete spinal cord injury treatment
Stem cells is isolated from the bone marrow cells. These cells are sorted in the laboratories and along with growth factors, they are injected into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Stem cells can form neuronal cells that can form new connections in the neurological circuit below the point of injury and can help completely recover from paralysis.
The motor skills and the sensation will start coming within 2 to 3 months.
What is the Recovery Outlook for incomplete spinal cord injury?
Recovery depends on the severity of the injury and varies from individual to individual. However, there are a few things that need to be taken care of.
Sometimes due to inflammation of the spinal cord, there is a condition called spinal shock that damages completely all the sensations and motor skills of the body. This condition should be prevented at an early stage in the emergency room.
With regular exercises, and the use of orthotics, there may be chances of recovery within 18 months, but there is no guarantee for that.
You can try stem cell therapy to cure your symptoms of spinal cord injury permanently.
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