Thinking about a spinal cord injury often conjures up thoughts of paralysis. What many people don’t realize is that there are many things that happen beyond the inability to move the arms and legs that can occur in these cases. Sometimes, these are the effects that have the greatest impact on the person’s life.
The areas of the body that are impacted by a spinal cord injury are always at or below the level of the damaged area. For example, an injury in the upper back or neck could lead to respiratory issues. Christopher Reeve had a respirator to help him breathe because he was unable to do so on his own after his cervical spinal cord was damaged in a fall. Individuals with this effect are more likely to suffer from pneumonia and respiratory infections.
Bowel and bladder control can both suffer because of a spinal cord injury. In some cases, these systems become neurogenic, which means they stop working properly. Urinary and fecal incontinence are both possible because the person can’t control the muscles necessary to prevent this, and they might not even have the feelings associated with the need to use the restroom due to the nerve damage. Bowel training and urinary catheters might help with these issues, but most patients also require personal care assistance to handle the situations.
The skin might also suffer from the injury. Nerve damage could mean that the person doesn’t feel hot or cold. They might not be able to feel pressure. Being paralyzed could mean that they are susceptible to pressure sores, which can become serious problems if they aren’t addressed swiftly.
People with spinal cord injuries face significant medical interventions. When the injury was due to another person’s negligence, the victim might choose to seek compensation to help them cover the financial obligations this type of injury brings about.