Spinal Cord Injury

Background

Approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injuries are reported each year.  As of 2013, it is estimated that there are approximately 273,000 persons living with spinal cord injuries in the United States.  In 2010, the most common cause was motor vehicle accidents followed by falls.

What is the spinal cord?

The spinal cord is part of the nervous system.  The main job of the spinal cord is to send information from the brain to the body. For someone to perform a simple movement, such as flexing (bending) the elbow, the brain will send an electrical current down the nerve that goes to the bicep (the muscle that is responsible for elbow flexion).  This electrical current stimulates the bicep muscle to contract and cause the elbow to bend. Of course this becomes more complicated as we ask the body to do more complicated movements. For example, reaching for a specific target requires the brain to communicate with multiple muscles.

What happens when the spinal cord is damaged?

When the spinal cord is damaged, it effects all communication below the level of the injury. Lets assume the red line represents the spinal cord damage. All communication with the muscles would be effected below that line. More muscles are effected the higher the injury.  An injury that occurs in the lumbar region (closer to the waist line), results in the brains inability to communicate with the muscles in the legs. When damage occurs closer to the neck, the brain loses communication with the arms and the legs.  The most severe injuries that occur high in the neck will effect the brains ability to communicate with breathing muscles.  

What to expect after you return home


Returning home can be overwhelming. But hang in there! This is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of how far you have come. And you can now begin the hard work of continuing to get your life back and regain your independence. This is where you will now begin your outpatient physical therapy where you will continue to learn how to use adaptive equipment to make you the most independent!

Say What?? I want to practice walking!!

Of course we share this vision for your recovery. But it is equally important and extremely empowering to gain as much independence as you can today. And this is why we at Orlando Neuro Therapy will work on 2 things.

We will continue to use proven techniques to strengthen weak muscles while also protecting joints from injury. Seriously, could you imagine hyperextending your knee, rolling an ankle, or dislocating a shoulder? Yup, this can actually happen if muscles and joints are not properly strengthened and protected.

We will continue to work with your adaptive equipment so you can get your life back ASAP.  It is hard to imagine having to use a wheelchair, adaptive eating utensils, or the crazy lynx wheelchair van…etc in public and we totally understand. But imagine being able to go out and enjoy time with friends and family? Movies theatres, Lake Eola, Disney…etc. Yes, all possible now that you got your “jail break” (my patient’s words, not mine) from rehab 🙂

And of course WALKING! Now, I know this is numero uno on your list and it is on mine for you as well while also avoiding injuries.

Again congratulations on making it home!!