Spinal Cord Injury : Physiotherapy Treatment

What is Spinal Cord Injury ?

Spinal cord injuries are defined as any traumatic or nontraumatic injury to the neural network or the bone structures that leads to a disruption in the nervous system that impacts movement, bowel functioning, and cognitive functions. Spinal cord injuries can have an impact on the physical and emotional well-being of the individual and the families of the injured.

Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis, difficulty in movement, numbness in different regions of the body such as arms, legs and thighs. It can also result in dependence on family members and professional caregivers. 

 Often injuries to the spinal cord need extensive care and rehabilitation that can be achieved with physiotherapy.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

Since spinal cords are a key pathway for neural transmission, an impact on the spinal cord will result in a lack of movement, and numbness in your legs or arms, depending on where the injury is. Another symptom would be the loss of motor response from the site of injury, often known as complete spinal injury. If there are partial motor responses, it is called an incomplete injury.

Other signs of injury are numbness, difficulty moving, and pain in different parts of the back and while moving. Loss of bowel and bladder control, inability to feel heat or cold, and difficulty breathing are all signs of a possible spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injury treatment plays an important role in recovery. 

Different Aspects of Physiotherapy for Spinal Cord Injury

The management of spinal cord injuries or SCI depends on the severity and the location of the injury of the spine. It is important to get a medical diagnosis that can be used to chart out a plan of care and rehabilitation for SCI by a physiotherapist. Spinal Cord injury physiotherapy management is an important part of treating the injury. 

Spinal cord physiotherapy is a multidisciplinary approach where physiotherapists, speech and hearing therapists, occupational therapists, and language therapists work in unison with the rehabilitation physician or psychiatrist and come up with a goal-oriented approach for the process.

5 Important Steps in the Management of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

The key steps in management are:

  • Assessing impairments, activity limitations
    This is where the medical professionals will intervene and run diagnosis and try to understand the various areas of problem in the spine, while simultaneously working towards minimizing further injury to the spine. This can include scans and tests.

  • Identifying key impairments

This step involves identifying where the problem lies and finalizing the kind of care and intervention that is needed. This also allows the doctors to assess the extent of the injury and allow families to be informed about the kind of care that will be needed.

  • Identifying physiotherapy treatments that will work best

This step is when the physiotherapists step in and look at treatment plans that will work best well for the patient, and chart out a recovery and rehabilitation process.

  • Measuring the outcome
    This step is crucial as it allows the medical practitioners to assess the various kinds of injuries, and how the treatment plans are progressing. It allows to track and graces healing process and identify if the treatment plans are working or not. This can further inform any other forms of change in plans for treatment, introduce new methods or refine older methods.
  • Setting goals to address the above

Different Phases of Spinal Cord Injury

The management of SCI can be divided into three phases

Spinal Cord Injury : Acute Phase

This is the phase where all respiratory and circulatory issues are addressed by the team and work towards immobilization of the injured area to heal better. Breathing problems are taken care of, and the person is injured when their ability to breathe is impacted. ANother form is also when the persons circulation of blood is limited due to an injury, that can cause concussions, blood clots and other forms of issues. These things are taken care of through various measures such as surgery, physiotherapy and medication.

Spinal Cord Injury : Subacute Phase

This involves addressing issues of movement, bringing various departments together to benefit the patient's recovery, and allowing a smooth transition of the patient back into the community. This will involve the interaction of the surgeons, orthopedics, physiotherapists and other doctors who need to be involved depending on the injury and its implications.

Spinal Cord Injury : Chronic Phase

This form of care required long-term planning for the recovery process of a patient. This can include regular checkups, physiotherapy changes over the years, and plans for a long period of time, based on the kind of injury to the spine of the individual. This is where usually spinal cord injury physical therapy comes into play.

Rehabilitation is done in multiple levels. In the short run, it can allow people to adjust to current conditions, improve mobility. In the long run, it can be to reduce dependency on external help, medication and improve overall quality of health.

Spinal Cord injury recovery is a difficult process, but with effective assistance, it is possible!