Life after suffering a spinal cord injury in Canada

An injury involving damage to the spinal cord can create significant challenges for an individual. The spine protects the spinal cord, which runs through a tunnel that is formed by the holes in each vertebrae. The soft nerve tissue of the spinal cord carries information from the brain to various portions of the body, but an injury can disrupt the flow of information. Such wounds may result in loss of feeling or loss of ability to move.

The location of a spinal cord injury can determine the level of physical difficulty a victim might experience. An injury that is closer to the brain will impede the transfer of information to a greater portion of the body. Trauma to the spinal cord in the middle of the back is more likely to affect the lower part of the body, primarily the legs. This is called paraplegia. Loss of motion and sensation through the arms, legs and chest is more likely with a neck injury. This is called quadriplegia.

An injury may occur due to physical defects or disease, but they may also result from severe trauma as in a vehicle accident. If a serious spinal injury occurs, initial treatment involves stabilizing a patient in order to limit damage. Testing may occur to determine the extent of an injury and the impact on movement and sensation. In many cases, rehabilitation efforts are initiated as soon as possible to help an individual adapt to changes and to help facilitate independence where possible.

In some cases, spinal cord injuries can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. It may become impossible to continue in a given profession or provide financial support to one’s family. If an injury has been caused through the negligence of another, legal action might be able to compensate for these negative issues.

Source: HealthLink BC, “Living With a Spinal Cord Injury“, October 06, 2014

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