A spinal cord injury (SCI) refers to any injury to the spinal cord that is caused by trauma. Depending on where the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain to paralysis to incontinence.Spinal cord injuries are described at various levels of “incomplete”, which can vary from having no effect on the patient to a “complete” injury which means a total loss of function.
Treatment of spinal cord injuries starts with restraining the spine and controlling inflammation to prevent further damage. The actual treatment can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the injury. In many cases, spinal cord injuries require substantial physiotherapy and rehabilitation, especially if the patient’s injury interferes with activities of daily life.
Spinal cord injuries have many causes, but are typically associated with major trauma from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and violence.
Physiotherapy for Spinal Cord Injury
The rehabilitation process following a spinal cord injury typically begins in the acute care setting.Physiotherapists and other health professionals work together o establish goals with the patient and develop a plan for discharge.
In the acute phase physiotherapists focus on the patient’s respiratory status, prevention of indirect complications, maintaining range of motion and maintaining muscle strength in the working muscles.
After discharge rehabilitation will depend on the level of spinal cord injury present. Aims will tend to be maximising muscle strength, length, function, range of motion, independence and reducing pain.
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