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How Does Spinal Cord Trauma Affect Your Body?

How Does Spinal Cord Trauma Affect Your Body?Atlanta’s vibrant lifestyle provides diverse opportunities, yet the city’s hustle poses risks of serious injury. From busy superhighways to countless construction jobsites, urban life demands constant awareness in order to mitigate injury risks and embrace all our city has to offer. Serious injuries like spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can affect how a victim’s entire body functions, often in unexpected ways.

The spinal cord is a vital pathway connecting the brain and the entire body, ensuring smooth, constant communication and enabling critical bodily functions and responses to occur when needed. Nerves within the spinal cord transmit messages between the brain and all parts of the body, coordinating automatic and voluntary actions. If this pathway gets damaged in any way, it can cause many problems.

Spinal cord trauma’s effects on automatic bodily functions

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), disrupted signals from the brain to all parts of the body lead to dysfunction in automatic bodily processes, including the following:

  • Disruption in blood pressure regulation: An SCI can disrupt the normal balance of the autonomic nervous system, impacting the regulation of blood pressure and potentially leading to complications in maintaining stable blood pressure levels.
  • Impaired control of heart rate: Nerve damage disrupts the coordination of heartbeats, resulting in irregular heart rates.
  • Challenges in digesting food: These devastating injuries can also impact digestion by disrupting the signals necessary for proper functioning of the digestive system. These nerve injuries may lead to issues like slowed food transit, swallowing difficulties, and disruptions in bowel movements, requiring ongoing, careful management.
  • Impaired breathing: A spinal cord injury can impact lung function by disrupting communication between the brain and respiratory muscles. This may lead to weakened muscles, reduced lung capacity, impaired cough reflex, and an increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Rehabilitation and respiratory therapy play vital roles in managing these challenges and maintaining optimal lung function after an SCI.

How is sepsis a long term danger for those with spinal cord injury?

Sepsis is a life-threatening immune response to infection, profoundly affecting organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, brain, and gastrointestinal tract. Victims of SCIs face an elevated risk of sepsis due to complications associated with their reduced mobility. The long-term dangers associated with SCI are primarily linked to the following factors:

  1. Pressure ulcers (bedsores): Wheelchair-bound individuals are susceptible to pressure ulcers, especially in areas with prolonged pressure. If left untreated, these ulcers can become infected, and ultimately may lead to sepsis. Regular monitoring, proper cushioning and turning, and skin care are essential for prevention.
  2. Urinary tract infections (UTIs): Reduced mobility can contribute to urinary retention or incomplete bladder emptying, increasing the risk of UTIs. Untreated UTIs may progress to more severe infections, potentially causing sepsis. Maintaining good urinary hygiene and seeking prompt medical attention for infections is crucial.
  3. Respiratory infections: Immobility and compromised respiratory function can result in an increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Pneumonia, for example, can lead to sepsis if not managed promptly.
  4. Compromised immune system: Individuals with SCIs may experience immune system dysfunction, making them more vulnerable to infections. This increases the risk of sepsis.
  5. Limited mobility-related complications: The challenges associated with limited mobility, such as difficulties in repositioning, can contribute to the development of infections. Addressing these complications promptly is crucial in preventing the progression to sepsis.

Preventive measures, including regular medical check-ups, maintaining skin integrity, practicing good hygiene, and seeking prompt medical attention for any infections, are essential for reducing the risk of sepsis after an SCI.

What regular medical attention will I require after suffering an SCI?

With the SCI patient’s team of healthcare professionals working in collaboration, victims can significantly improve overall health outcomes and minimize the risk of complications. Individuals with an SCI benefit from a collaborative team of healthcare professionals, including:

  • Physiatrist (physical medicine and rehabilitation physician): Oversees overall medical management and rehabilitation plans for SCI individuals.
  • Physical therapist: Aids in improving mobility, strength, and overall physical function through targeted exercises and interventions.
  • Occupational therapist: Focuses on enhancing independence in daily activities and improving quality of life for those with SCI.
  • Neurologist or neurosurgeon: Provides specialized medical management, potential surgical interventions, and ongoing neurological care.
  • Rehabilitation nurse: Coordinates care, provides education, and assists in managing health, facilitating adaptation to life with a spinal cord injury.
  • Urologist: Addresses urological challenges that may arise due to SCI, offering specialized care for urinary and reproductive health.
  • Respiratory therapist: Assists with respiratory challenges that individuals with SCI may encounter, providing support for optimal lung function.

It’s important to note that the collaborative efforts of this healthcare team should be covered by the party responsible for the SCI. The experienced Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton, LLP can help individuals secure the compensation they deserve. Compensation may cover:

  • Lost wages: Reimbursement for income lost due to the inability to work.
  • Medical expenses: Coverage for ongoing medical treatments, surgeries, medications, and assistive devices.
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical and emotional distress resulting from the SCI.
  • Loss of consortium: Compensation for the impact on personal relationships and companionship.

No matter what act of negligence caused your spinal cord injury, we want to help. The experienced team of Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton, LLP will handle the legal side of things as you focus on reorienting your life after your SCI. With convenient offices in Atlanta and Savannah, we are here to help. Call or contact us today for your free consultation.

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