A spinal cord injury (SCI) is the damage to the spinal cord that often causes permanent or temporary changes in sensation, strength or other body functions below the level of the lesion.
Some of the many organs and body functions affected by the SCI are: bladder, bowel, respiratory, cardiovascular and sexual function. However, the most evident consequence of spinal cord injury is paralysis.
Any damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, or disks of the spinal cord and spinal column will result in can cause injuries. Some of these lesions are fairly minor and will heal well with some limited amount of physiotherapy, while others need physiotherapy for the rest of their lives.
The most common causes of traumatic spinal cord injury are related to falls, sports accidents and nonetheless, motor vehicle accidents.
Only in Australia, traumatic SCI occurs in about 15 adults for each million in the population, every year. Unfortunately, this number is expected to increase gradually in the future years due to the growth rate of aging population.
A congruent treatment plan in physiotherapy always starts with the evaluation of the patient. Thereafter, the formulated plan will usually include therapies specific to the kind of spinal cord injury the patient has. For example, neck injuries can cause quadriplegia, which requires special interventions and treatments.
Maybe the most important aspect in spinal cord injury is the level of the damage. If the physiotherapy treatment is not strictly followed, the spine will begin to atrophy below the level of the spinal cord injury. As a result, the spine shrinks and the whole body below that point will become weaker in time.
The physical exercises are also of great importance for patients suffering spinal cord injury. They is always a risk of developing osteoporosis and heart problems, among other conditions. In fact, a wide variety of conditions are associated with spinal cord injury patients, especially
if there is a total lack of physical exercise.
Physiotherapy for spinal cord injury involves exercising and stimulating the nerves and muscles below the level of the damage. But no matter if an injury is caused by traumatic or non-traumatic event, a person with a SCI can benefit from rehabilitation. The positive outcomes to a person with traumatic or non-traumatic SCI are similar regarding their ability to move, feel, control their bladder and bowel and other possible problems.
Physiotherapy offers multiple restorative therapies for spinal cord injury patients. These include electrical stimulation, biofeedback, vibrational therapy, laser therapy and other stimulation activities. Aqua therapy is also a physiotherapy method that is conducive to progress in spinal cord injury patients.
With all these therapies, spinal cord injury patients can sometimes restore themselves to earlier functioning. Other times, they can simply keep their bodies from deteriorating as they wait for a cure. New researches in this field are being conducted and recent studies are putting spinal cord injury patients in harnesses over treadmills stimulating walking.
Physiotherapy treatment techniques will most definitely make a difference to spinal cord injury patients. Physiotherapy plays a vital role in helping the spinal cord patients and not only allows them to have the most normal functioning that they are currently able to have, but also improves the quality of life by increasing their physical abilities.