Involvement in motor vehicle collisions may result in serious trauma, including spinal cord injuries. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, auto accidents rank as the leading cause of traumatic SCIs. Since 2019, car crashes have caused 39.3% of SCIs from trauma.
Depending on the type and severity of their trauma, people who suffer SCIs may experience life-changing and long-lasting effects.
Acute treatment for SCIs
In the emergent setting, the treatment of spinal trauma focuses on stabilizing the spine and protecting it from further injury. Medical providers may perform imaging to assess the severity of the injury. Some patients may require surgery to stabilize the spine. Often, those who suffer serious spinal injuries require hospitalization in the intensive care unit and time in an inpatient nursing unit or rehabilitation facility before returning home.
Treatment of secondary complications
Spinal cord injuries may lead to changes in the body and body’s functions, some of which may develop into secondary problems. Thus, SCI patients may require medical interventions to prevent such complications. For example, this may include taking medications prescribed to address certain disorders or alleviate certain symptoms, making dietary changes, using adaptive equipment and tools, and undergoing additional surgical procedures.
Long-term treatment and care
Following an SCI, people may need lifelong medical care and therapy. According to the Mayo Clinic, spinal trauma patients may work with a rehabilitation team consisting of professionals which may include physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreation therapists, rehabilitation nurses, psychologists, social workers, dietitians and physiatrists. They may work with people who suffer SCIs to maintain and strengthen their existing motor functions. Rehabilitation teams may also help people redevelop fine motor skills and learn adaptive techniques to help SCI patients increase their independence and quality of life.