The spinal cord is a long “cord” of nervous tissue that extends from the brainstem to the lower portion of the back. The spinal cord is the communication highway for the human body. It facilitates the communication between your brain and the rest of your body. When the spinal cord is damaged, the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body is often impaired.
How Serious Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Exceptionally. Because the spinal cord allows for communication within your body, the inability to communicate can result in the loss of feeling or control of body parts that can no longer communicate with the brain. This can cause numbness in limbs and paralysis in more severe cases. In the most extreme cases, a spinal cord injury is deadly.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Diagnosed?
If you believe that you may have suffered a spinal cord injury, you should consult a doctor immediately. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose a spinal cord injury. In diagnosing spinal cord injuries, doctors will employ X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate whether the spinal cord has been damaged. Additionally, the doctor may employ tests such as sensitivity and muscle strength tests to determine whether there is a communication issue between the brain and the rest of the body.
Can a Spinal Cord Injury Heal on Its Own?
Rarely. Due to the specific make-up of nervous tissue and the scar tissue that forms around the injured nervous tissue, the spinal cord is generally unable to heal itself. For those who have suffered a spinal cord injury, the effects are likely to be permanent without proper treatment.
What Treatments Are Available for Spinal Cord Injuries?
At the moment, no known treatment exists to effectively reverse spinal cord damage. Unfortunately, damage to the spinal cord is most often permanent. However, this does not mean that there aren’t treatments and other remedies available to help individuals recover, regain mobility, and return to their normal lifestyles.
Currently, prostheses and medications are used to help patients cope with spinal cord injuries. New treatments are constantly under research, but at the moment, there is no federally approved treatment that can help the spinal cord heal. However, a recent study by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases found that the cancer drug epothilone reduced the formation of scar tissue surrounding spinal cord injuries and stimulated growth in damaged cells in animals. This treatment is still far from involving human patients, but it presents significant progress in the search for spinal cord injury treatment.
Spinal cord injuries are life-changing and can result in exorbitant medical expenses. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine what actions may be available to you.