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A spinal cord injury happens when a bone in your spine cuts or presses on the spinal cord. This stops communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
The closer the injury is to the head, the more the body is affected. Serious damage to the spinal cord in the neck can lead to not being able to use your arms and legs. This is called quadriplegia.
First, your doctor will try to prevent more damage to your spine and spinal cord. You may get braces, casts, or straps. You may also get medicines for swelling. Sometimes surgery is used. Surgery can remove bone. It can also stabilize or straighten the spine.
It can be scary and overwhelming to realize you are paralyzed. There is a lot to learn, but things usually get easier with practice and support. Don't be afraid to get support from family, friends, and counsellors. You also can do things at home to feel better. A spinal cord injury changes some things forever. But you can still have a full and rewarding life.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
It may be awhile before you go home. You will learn many things during your treatment. Rehabilitation is training and therapy that helps you regain function and relearn skills that were lost as a result of your injury. Rehab begins in the hospital. A rehab team that includes doctors and nurses and physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapists will help you with daily living.
When you do go home, these things may help:
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
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Current as of: April 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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