Spinal cord injury can have a devastating effect on ones life and family.

Prevention is the best option.!

There was a young engineer, 24 years, just passed out of his college, who had been brought to the emergency room after he was injured when the tractor he was driving  fell into a gorge on the fields. He has not able to move his legs and felt that his body was numb below his waist. His spine had fractured and the spinal cord was damaged.  He was operated on to fix the fractured bones in his spine. But his spinal cord function never recovered. I had to convey to him that he may never walk independently again in his life.

There was another 32 year old man, father of two kids, who had a fracture in the mid spine when a three-wheeler he was travelling in toppled over. He became paralysed below the waist. Surgery was done to fix the broken bones in the spine. He was the only earning member in the family and would never be able to do the same job again. That expression he had on his face when he realised the magnitude of the situation is still fresh in my mind.

There have been quite a few youngsters I have treated for spinal fracture with spinal cord injury over the last 10 years. One of the most difficult things is to reveal to them that the spinal cord injury is probably going to leave them paralysed for the rest of their lives. I can see that the gravity of that statement doesn’t sink in to them so quickly. It may take a few days or weeks for some to realise the magnitude of the devastation that this injury can have on their lives and their families. Many of them were productive earning members of their family and this injury would push them into a serious financial crisis.

Road traffic accidents, fall from height, diving mishaps in swimming pools, industrial accidents are some of the common causes of spinal cord injury.

The brain communicates with the rest of the body through the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves. Spinal cord is an integral part of the central nervous system and is like the main cable relaying motor signals from the brain to the entire body and carrying  sensory signals from the body to the brain. So if spinal cord stops functioning at a particular level, the part of the body below that level looses connect with the brain resulting in paralysis and loss of voluntary control of that region. Most of the times the functional recovery is only partial or nil. Only in a few fortunate patients, the spinal cord function recovers naturally, significant enough to allow them to be independent for most daily activities.

Surgery can only help fix the broken bones of the fractured spine. Stabilising the fractured spine helps in reducing the pain, in limiting further damage to the injured spinal cord and most importantly, helps in getting the patient out of bed with necessary supports, nursing them and  to start physiotherapy and rehabilitation measures. There is nothing surgical that can be done in the spinal cord itself, that can really help in recovery.

Although there is a tremendous amount of research going on various options to aid spinal cord healing and recovery, there is no single proven agent or procedure that can really show a significant improvement in spinal cord function, once it is damaged. There are various centres claiming enhanced recovery by injecting stem cells into the damaged spinal cord. But there is no concrete evidence to recommend it as a standard treatment as of now and is only allowed to be used as part of a registered experimental study.

Prevention of spinal cord injury is the most important way of avoiding this devastating problem from ruining lives. Safety precautions while on road, at work and at home should be strictly implemented and followed. Education of the people about the spinal cord injury and preventive measures must be done to increase awareness about this problem.

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Dr Phani Kiran S

Experience and Professionalism

With years of experience in spine surgery, Dr Phani Kiran SSenior Consultant Spine Surgeon will assess you and suggest the treatment option that is right for you.

We at Medspine clinics, understand the importance of educating all our patients about the spinal problems and the most effective ways to take care of their spine.

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