Spinal cord injuries, also known as SCIs, can be life-altering, causing long-term disability and significant medical challenges. Identifying the signs of an SCI is a step you should take after an accident.
Learning some of the primary indications of a spinal cord injury is important if you do not know much about this injury.
Muscle weakness or paralysis
Muscle weakness or paralysis can be a glaring sign of a spinal cord injury. You might find it challenging to move certain body parts, and the extent of weakness or paralysis often depends on the location and severity of the injury.
Difficulty breathing or coughing
In some cases, a spinal cord injury may affect the nerves responsible for controlling the diaphragm and chest muscles, leading to breathing difficulties. You might struggle to take deep breaths or cough effectively, which can result in respiratory distress.
Loss of bladder or bowel control
A spinal cord injury can disrupt the communication between the brain and the bladder or bowel, resulting in loss of control. You may experience incontinence or difficulty emptying your bladder or bowels. This sudden change in control over bodily functions is a clear indication of a potential spinal cord injury.
Pain in the neck or back
You should not ignore pain or pressure in your neck or back, especially after an accident or trauma. These sensations can be indicative of damage to the spinal cord or surrounding structures. It is important to seek immediate medical evaluation to assess the extent of the injury and initiate appropriate treatment.
Difficulty walking or balancing
A spinal cord injury can impair your ability to walk or maintain balance. You may experience unsteadiness, stumbling or even a complete inability to stand or walk.
Considering that Americans with SCIs needed to stay in rehabilitation for an average of 31 days in 2022, recognizing the early signs of a spinal cord injury is important for timely treatment. Early intervention can significantly improve the prognosis and quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injuries.