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What life is like with a spinal cord injury

A spinal cord injury can be debilitating. Whether you have a spinal cord injury because of a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall or some other type of incident, you may have trouble adjusting to your new normal. Spinal cord damage can cause long-lasting pain, complications and impairments. 

While a spinal cord injury can be life-altering, you can manage it with the proper treatment and lifestyle. Here are some guidelines regarding the treatment of spinal cord injuries. 

Health problems you may experience

Your physical capabilities may change and impact your daily life. Some common symptoms of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Paralysis
  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Difficulty breathing

The exact complications you deal with will depend on the nature of your injury, specifically the location and severity of the damage. 

Rehabilitation for spinal cord injury

Unfortunately, there is no way to cure or reverse spinal cord damage. But there are plenty of ways to care for such an injury. Immediate actions in the emergency room often include IV medication, immobilization and surgery. But ongoing rehabilitation often involves help from various health care professionals, including:

  • Physical therapist
  • Rehabilitation nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Social worker
  • Rehabilitation psychologist
  • Recreation therapist
  • Dietitian

These professionals can help you make the proper adjustments to your life, strengthen existing muscles, refine motor skills and learn adaptive techniques. 

Medications

Drugs often play a role in managing the effects of spinal cord damage. Your doctor may prescribe medications to relieve pain, control muscle spasms and improve bladder and bowel control. Some medications may also assist with sexual functioning. 

Technologies

Medical devices can help you be independent and mobile after a spinal cord injury. Potential technologies that can help you include wheelchairs, computer adaptations, electrical stimulation devices and electronic aids. Your team of medical professionals will help you determine what devices will help you the most.

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