The rehabilitation process is essential for recovery for people who face spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury occurs when the nerves are mutated within the spinal cord, which can be upshot in a range of physical and functional impairments.
Rehabilitation aims to improve physical and functional abilities, manage pain, and help individuals with spinal cord injury live as independently as possible.
This article will explore the diverse forms of rehabilitation treatments available for spinal cord injury and the role of the rehabilitation team in supporting recovery.
1. Defining Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
Spinal cord injury is a serious and potentially life-changing condition that occurs when there is damage to the nerves within the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a long, subtle tube of nerves that go from the brain down over the spine.
It transmits messages among the brain and the body’s remaining parts, allowing us to move, sense, and feel our surroundings. When the spinal cord is hurt, these messages can be disrupted, leading to physical and functional impairments.
2. Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two key types of spinal cord injury: complete and incomplete:
- In a complete injury, all messages between the brain and the body are disrupted, resulting in total loss of functioning below the level of the injury.
- In an incomplete injury, some messages may still be able to pass via the spinal cord, resulting in partial functioning below the level of the injury.
The severity of the injury and the level of function that can be regained will depend on the position and scope of the damage to the spinal cord.
3. Goals of Rehabilitation
The main goals of rehabilitation for spinal cord injury are to:
3.1. Improve physical and functional abilities
Rehabilitation can help individuals with spinal cord injuries regain strength, mobility, and other physical abilities. It may involve exercises to improve muscle strength and flexibility and assistive devices such as wheelchairs or braces to help with mobility.
3.2. Pain Management
Chronic pain is a common problem for people with spinal cord injuries, and effective pain management is an important part of rehabilitation. It may involve medications, therapies such as acupuncture or massage, and self-management strategies.
3.3. Increase independence and participation in daily life
Rehabilitation can help individuals with spinal cord injury regain skills and abilities needed for daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and cooking. It also lets them return to work, school, or other activities they enjoy.
4. How Can a Spinal Cord Injury Affect the Body?
A spinal cord injury can impact the body in various ways, contingent on the level and sternness of the injury. Some common physical impacts of spinal cord injury could be:
Paralysis is the loss of muscle movement and function. The level of paralysis hinges on the SCI level, whether it is complete or partial. For example, an injury at the cervical level (the neck) may result in quadriplegia and paralysis of all four limbs. An injury at the thoracic level can result in paraplegia, which is lower-body paralysis.
4.2. Loss of sensation
A spinal cord injury can also be upshot in a loss of sensation, including touch, temperature, and pain. This can make it more difficult to feel and respond to injuries or other health issues and increase the risk of complications.
Spasticity is the uncontrolled contraction of muscles, which can cause stiffness and difficulty with movement. It is often a problem for individuals with spinal cord injuries and can be managed with medications or other treatments.
4.4. Autonomic dysreflexia
Autonomic dysreflexia is a condition that occurs when the autonomic nervous system becomes overactive. Various stimuli can prompt it, such as bladder or bowel issues, skin irritation, or injury. Symptoms may include high blood pressure, headache, and sweating.
4.5. Bladder and bowel issues
A spinal cord injury also affects the body’s ability to control the bladder and bowel, which can cause incontinence and other issues. These problems can often be managed with medications, catheterization, or other treatments.
It’s important to note that these are just some of the potential physical effects of spinal cord injury and that the specific effects will vary depending on the individual and the level and severity of the injury.
5. Different Rehabilitation Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury
Several physical rehabilitation treatments may help individuals with spinal cord injuries regain strength, mobility, and other physical abilities. These may include:
Exercise can help you improve muscle endurance, flexibility, and strength. Depending on the level and severity of the injury, this may involve stretching, strength training, and cardio exercises.
5.1.1. Range Of Motion Exercises
Range of motion exercises helps to maintain or improve flexibility and movement in the joints. This may include exercises such as stretches, gentle twisting and bending, and other movements that target specific joints or muscle groups.
5.1.2. Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening exercises can help improve muscle strength and endurance. This may include weightlifting, resistance band work, and bodyweight movements focused on specific muscle groups.
5.1.3. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises help to improve cardiovascular fitness and promote overall health. This may include cycling, swimming, and upper body ergometry (an exercise machine that uses the upper body).
5.1.4. Core Stability Exercises
Core stability exercises are designed to strengthen the trunk muscles and improve balance. This may include exercises such as pelvic tilts, bridges, and planks.
5.1.5. Weight Shifting Exercises
Weight-shifting exercises help individuals with spinal cord injuries enhance their capability to move and control their bodies. This may include exercises that involve shifting weight from front to back or from side to side.
5.1.6. Gait And Balance Training
Gait and balance training are exercises that help individuals with spinal cord injuries improve their ability to walk and maintain their balance. This may include exercises that involve walking on different surfaces or using assistive devices such as crutches or walkers.
It’s important to note that these exercises should be done under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist, following an assessment of the injury and the patient’s physical capabilities.
Working on a rehabilitation program customized to each individual is also important. It should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that the patient is progressing and that the program is adapted to the changing needs.
5.2. Assistive Devices
Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, braces, and walkers can help people with spinal cord injuries improve mobility and independence. Physical therapists can help patients choose the best devices for their needs and teach them how to use them safely and effectively.
5.3. Electrical Stimulation
Electrical Stimulation involves using low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate muscle contractions. This can help improve muscle coordination and strength and decrease spasticity.
5.4. Manual Therapy
Manual therapy encompasses massage and manipulation to improve mobility and reduce pain. Physical therapists can use this therapy to help recover elasticity and range of motion.
5.5. Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy involves exercises and activities performed in a pool or other aquatic setting. The buoyancy and resistance of the water can help improve strength and mobility and may be easier on the body than land-based exercises.
6. Challenges and Coping Strategies
Living up with a spinal cord injury is physically and emotionally challenging. Adjusting to a new lifestyle and coping with physical and functional limitations can be difficult. Therefore, individuals with spinal cord injury and their families need to find support and resources to help them navigate these challenges.
Some coping tactics that might be helpful include:
- Seeking support from family, friends, and support groups
- Participating in rehabilitation and other therapies to improve function and independence
- Managing pain and other physical symptoms
- Seeking counseling or other mental health support
- Finding ways to partake in activities that bring delight and some meaning to life
Rehabilitation is a central part of recovery for people facing spinal cord injuries. It can also help improve physical and functional abilities, manage pain, and increase independence and participation in daily life.
A range of rehabilitation treatments and therapies are available, and a team of professionals can work with patients and families to develop a personalized rehabilitation plan. While living with a spinal cord injury can be challenging, many resources and strategies are available to help individuals and their families cope and thrive.
If you face such injuries and want proper rehabilitation, ATX Fit can help you get quick and best rehab results. Get in touch with us instantly to get the best fitness solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Essential to Go Through the Rehab Process?
For a quick recovery from the spinal cord injury, it is essential to go through the rehab process under the supervision of professional trainers and medical officials. Also, this makes it easier to avoid conserving bone compactness and losing muscle power. It also benefits in ensuring the normal functioning of the respiratory and digestive systems.
2. What Are the Signs of Spinal Cord Injury?
The signs of spinal cord injury depend on the nature and position of the damage. You should get medical assistance instantly if you find any of the following problems after this injury;
- Feeling weakness in arms and legs
- Reduced sensation in legs and or arms
- Losing bladder control
- Severe pain in the neck or back
- Unusual lumps beside the spine
- Issues in breathing.
3. Is Walking Good for Recovering from a Spinal Cord Injury?
Yes! Walking is one of the restorative exercises that help increase spine stability and condition the muscles responsible for keeping the body in the right position. Walking also nourishes the spinal structure and improves blood circulation in the harmed areas.
4. Can A Fitness Center Help Me with Rehabilitation from SCI?
Yes, a fitness center like ATX Fit can always help you in the rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries. They always have highly professional and skillful trainers and medical officials who care for people with such injuries, enabling them to recover faster and return to normal living.