Motor vehicle accidents (MVA) are the leading cause of spinal cord injury (SCI) across the US and in Washington State. Up to 450,000 people are living with SCI in the US alone. What are other causes, symptoms and treatment options for SCI?
Causes of SCI
Though auto accidents remain the number one cause of SCI, it is also caused by recreational sports activities and acts of violence. Over half of these injuries happen to those aged 16-30, and 80% of those people are men.
Types of SCI
The first type of SCI is called Complete SCI, which affects the person’s muscle control on both sides of the body below the injury. It can result from complete cutting of the spinal cord or from reduced blood flow or contusion.
The next type is Incomplete SCI. As its name implies, a person with incomplete SCI may retain motor function in certain parts of the body. Incomplete SCI is further classified into grades depending on the severity of the injury. In general, a more severe SCI has less potential for recovery.
A spinal concussion is another type of SCI that generally resolves itself within a few days. Athletes are most prone to this type of SCI, though they can result from auto accidents, as well.
It is imperative to seek medical care following an auto accident, even if you aren’t experiencing pain or discomfort. Oftentimes, SCI is diagnosed with an x-ray. Depending on the severity of the injury, the SCI can be treated non-surgically with traction or surgically.
Additionally, patients with SCI may need follow-up care including physical therapy, emotional therapy and occupational therapy. Though a complete SCI may never fully regain control of the body below the injury, incomplete SCI can. Most improvement will be noted within a few days of the injury.