Can pressure sores happen after a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries put a person at risk for a variety of complications. When you are immobile or have limited mobility, you are at risk of suffering from a pressure sore. A pressure sore is something that can be difficult to treat. In extreme cases, it can be life-ending.

What are pressure sores?

Pressure sores are breakdowns in the skin and underlying tissues that occur when there is constant pressure placed on an area of the skin. These sores are often caused by sitting in a wheelchair or on a hard surface or lying in bed. Pressure sores can even occur when you are transferring from one location to another.

How are pressure sores caused?

There are two ways that pressure sores begin. One way is through direct pressure. The second way is through shear, which means that the skin slides one way and the tissues slide another way when you are moving or being moved.

How are pressure sores classified?

Pressure sores are classified by the severity of damage. Stage 1 is the least severe and Stage 4 is the most severe. The fifth classification is unstageable, which means that a scab, dead skin, or black skin is covering the sore so the depth can’t be determined.

All of the complications of a spinal cord injury can be devastating for a person who has already been through a lot. Getting proper care and having proper assistive devices can help to reduce the possible complications you might suffer after a spinal cord injury. In some cases, seeking compensation might help you to be able to afford the equipment and assistance you need to cope with the spinal cord injury’s effects.

Source: Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, “Preventing and Treating Pressure Sores: A Guide for People with Spinal Cord Injuries,” accessed Feb. 25, 2016