Treatments to Walk Again after a Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is an essential part of the central nervous system associated with the brain. It is a nerve tube, with the thickness of a thumb, extending from the head down to the lumbar vertebrae. It ensures the work of all departments of the central nervous system. For example, it lets a person move and control the neck, trunk, arms and legs, pelvic organs, and intestines, excretory and reproductive systems.
Spinal Cord Injury: what is it?
Each spinal cord segment interacts with the brain, body parts, and organs and connects to them with the help of nerves. Suppose one of the segments of the spinal cord is damaged. In that case, this leads to the disruption of several human organs: they stop receiving commands from the brain and transmitting information to it. The higher the spinal cord injury is located, the stronger the damage.
According to the World Health Organization, 250.000 and 500.000 people worldwide suffer spinal cord injuries yearly. Most damage occurs due to a car accident (42,1%), fall (26,7%), and impact (15,1%). Also, damage to the spinal cord can occur due to illness, for example, with oncology or multiple sclerosis. People with spinal cord injuries require regular supervision by specialists and high-quality rehabilitation.
Symptoms of spinal injury
Pain is the first sign of spinal injury. If the injury is accompanied by damage to the spinal cord, additional symptoms appear:
- inability to move;
- loss or change of sensitivity, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch;
- inability to control bowel or bladder emptying;
- increased reflex strength or spasms;
- disorders of sexual sensitivity, erection, and fertility;
- pain or severe burning caused by damage to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord;
- difficulty breathing.
A person after an injury needs a diagnosis. Some spinal cord injuries require conservative treatment, while others require surgical intervention. The tactics of recovery after spinal cord injury depends on the type of injury.
Types of spinal cord injuries:
- spinal cord concussion;
- rupture of the spinal cord;
- vertebral fracture;
- displacement of the vertebra;
- rupture of the intervertebral disc.
Patients with a complete spinal cord injury cannot control the muscles below the injury itself.
Treatment of spinal cord injuries
Treatment is a long and severe process that does not always lead to the patient's complete recovery from spinal cord injury. Some disorders appear immediately, and some may develop over time. After stabilizing the patient's condition, doctors proceed to eliminate the physiological causes of spinal cord injury (compression fractures, dislocations of vertebrae, etc.) and then to rehabilitation measures so that paralyzed person can walk again.
The choice of treatment methods in each case depends on the cause of spinal cord injury, localization of the pathological process, the severity of clinical symptoms, etc.:
- Drug therapy. In the first hours after injury, corticosteroid injections effectively reduce local inflammation and swelling. To stop the pain and prevent complications, doctors can also prescribe analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antioxidants, and drugs with neuroprotective effects to patients.
- Physical therapy. Procedures for restoring motor activity are part of the comprehensive treatment of spinal injuries. If necessary, they wear fixed corsets. They ensure the correct position of the spine and accelerate healing and reduce pain.
- Surgical treatment. The most common spinal cord injury is compression. It may be caused by a herniated disc or decompression of the spinal cord. Doctors eliminate damage to the vertebrae with the help of special bone cement or metal plates.
Spinal injuries are a real challenge for a doctor. The treatment of such injuries requires deep knowledge and experience. Therefore, the whole team of specialists treats patients with spinal injuries. Combining the work of neurosurgeons, neurologists, radiologists, orthopedic surgeons, physiotherapists, rehabilitologists, and psychiatrists makes it possible to achieve maximum results, increase the chances of walking after being paralyzed and restore lost functions as much as possible.
Not all patients with spinal injuries need surgery, unlike rehabilitation. Nevertheless, it is the primary way to recover from spinal cord injury and return to daily life. In addition to qualified rehabilitologists and occupational therapists, access to modern rehabilitation systems plays a role.
Thus, rehabilitation at the best clinics is helped by:
- Biodex balance training;
- Armeo Power robotic system for upper limbs;
- Anymov robot bed for intensive care of neurological diseases;
- Robot simulator for the recovery of walking skills Lokomat.
Rehabilitation after spinal injury
Spinal cord injuries always lead to consequences and can accompany a person throughout life. That is because the spinal cord cannot regenerate, and many nerve cells are concentrated in it, affecting the body's work. Recovery from a spinal cord injury is a long process that does not end after discharge from the rehabilitation center.
- reduce the risk of repeated complications;
- restore or compensate for lost functions, regain maximum independence;
- help a person cope with psychological problems;
- adapt a person to everyday life after an injury.
According to recent studies, by having an implant in the spinal cord, paraplegics can walk again. The study was led by Jocelyn Bloch of the University Hospital of Lausanne and Gregoire Curtin of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The results were published in February 2022 in the journal Nature Medicine.
Where to go for rehabilitation?
The best rehabilitation centers in the world
Many medical centers in Turkey, Spain, Italy, Israel, and other countries specialize in recovery from spinal cord injuries. The complete list of clinics is presented on our website. Compiling it, experts of AiroMedical are confident in the quality of the rehabilitation program after a spinal cord injury. No time for independent searches? Please fill out the form, and our coordinator will contact you soon and help you with choosing.
It is a professional specialized rehabilitation center. Their experts and robotic equipment meet the latest world standards. It has the famous HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) exoskeleton, G-EO System robot, HandTutor device for dynamic arm exercises, training equipment Pelvic Trainer, etc. The skillful hands of specialists and technical tools make rehabilitation a big step forward. The clinic belongs to the best rehabilitation centers in Poland and throughout Europe.
The first rehabilitation center in the world to offer walking therapy with the robotic system Lokomat. As a result, adults and children walk again even after a complete spinal cord injury. Traditional physiotherapy combined with robotic treatment shows the best results for patients.
It is a medical clinic that helps to restore physical and psychosocial abilities lost due to spinal injury or disease. The center provides a full range of high-quality rehabilitation to patients with spinal cord injuries and illnesses. Unique treatment regimens allow seeing the signs of recovery from spinal cord injury as soon as possible.
One of the leading German rehabilitation centers offers all neurological rehabilitation programs. The clinic treats strokes, cerebral hemorrhages, brain injuries, and inflammatory illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's. The reputation of the clinic is world known.
Their offer treatment for neurological patients. It uses the latest physiotherapy methods, such as Lokohelp walking training and virtual reality. In addition, for each patient, develop an individual and specific neurorehabilitation treatment plan.
Treatments for a walk again after a spinal cord injury
Annually, about 40 million people worldwide suffer from spinal cord injuries.
Most of them are young, usually between 20 and 35. The results of spinal cord injuries are not only detrimental to independence and physical function but also cause many complications.
Neurogenic bladder and bowel, paralysis, urinary tract infections, pressure sores, orthostatic hypotension, fractures, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), spasticity, heterotrophic ossification, contractures, autonomic dysreflexia, pulmonary and cardiovascular problems, depressive disorders are common complications after spinal cord injury. These complications are directly related to the duration and quality of life.
Furthermore, the treatment and rehabilitation process due to spinal cord injury is long and expensive. In addition, post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in 17% of patients in the first five years. Therefore, one of the first questions patients with spinal cord injury ask is their prognosis and chances of walking again after paralysis. The outlook is directly related to the extent and severity of the damage. For example, keeping the feeling in the sacral area shows that 75% of these patients can walk again.
How much does it cost, and how to organize the treatment of spinal injuries?
The cost and duration of treatment of spinal injuries depend on many factors, including:
- type of damage;
- the presence of concomitant spinal cord injury;
- prescription of injury;
- the presence of concomitant diseases.
AiroMedical company assists patients in the treatment of spinal injuries. It is the process of discussing, planning, and documenting outcomes for the patient. We always consider individual characteristics in the selection of rehabilitation for each patient.
To estimate the preliminary cost, leave a request, and our coordinator doctor will contact you soon. Based on your medical history and documentation, he can guide you on a preliminary diagnosis and treatment plan and help with all organizational issues related to the trip.
As a result of a combination of proper diagnosis and treatment, the patient gets a chance for a faster recovery of spinal cord injuries with minimal risk of complications during surgery.