A spinal cord injury is extremely serious because of the disabling effects it can cause for the rest of an affected individual’s life. During the early stages of treatment immediately following a spinal cord injury, emergency room physicians will usually do everything they can to stabilize victims and prevent their injuries from developing complications and making matters worse.
Doctors may do some or all of the following immediately after an accident:
- Keep the victim breathing
- Prevent shock
- Immobilize the neck to prevent more damage
- Prevent complications related to urine and stool retention, and breathing and heart problems
- Prevent blood clots.
Doctors may also sedate spinal cord injury patients so that they do not move and cause more damage to themselves.
People who have spinal cord injuries are usually treated in a hospital’s intensive care unit and may also be sent to a spine injury center, where neurosurgeons, spinal cord specialists and other medical staff are available to treat the patient.
Special medications may also be used to help the victim in his or her recovery. Those medications include intravenous methylprednisolone, which, in some cases, can help to mildly improve a spinal cord injury. However, methylprednisolone is not a cure.
Finally, victims will usually have their spinal column and necks immobilized through traction, which will help their spines to realign. Surgery may also be necessary to take away bone fragments and resolve herniated disks and fractured vertebrae.
Although there is no cure for a spinal cord injury, some treatments are known to help victims a great deal, and in some cases, miraculous recoveries can be achieved. However, spinal cord injury victims must stay realistic with regard to their hopes for recovery because many of them must learn to cope with lifelong disabilities, pain and other medical issues.