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Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries | Generations Home Care
Arizona Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are relatively uncommon occurrences. According to the Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are some 17,000 new cases across the country every year. While these injuries may be rare, they can have devastating consequences for patients who are often forced to relearn many tasks they previously took for granted. With the most serious injuries, those consequences can often spill out beyond the patient as family members are forced to act as sudden caretakers. In many instances, in-home care can provide much-needed relief for the patient and family caregivers.

What is a Spinal Injury?

All forms of spinal injury are a direct result of damage to the spinal cord, which is a cluster of nerves running through the spinal column. These nerves are responsible for carrying signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries interrupt those signals, which causes complications throughout the body.

How Many Types of Spinal Injuries Are There?

Spinal cord damage causes many different conditions. However, they all fall into one of two categories: complete and incomplete spinal injury. The difference between the two categories lies in the symptoms.

Complete spinal injuries leave the victim paralyzed below the point of injury, leaving them in a paraplegic or quadriplegic state. By contrast, those who experience an incomplete spinal injury often retain some feeling below the point of injury. These patients may even remain fully functional, albeit with significantly reduced coordination.

According to, the five most common forms of incomplete spinal injury are:

  • Anterior Cord Syndrome: Caused by an injury to the front (anterior) of the spinal cord, this injury interferes with the victim’s senses relating to pain, touch, and temperature. Although rare, it‘s possible to recover some movement and function after this injury.
  • Central Cord Syndrome: Caused by an injury to the center of the spinal cord, this results in paralysis to the arms and legs. In most cases, patients can recover some leg movement, but the arms will likely remain paralyzed.
  • Posterior Cord Syndrome: The result of injury to the back (posterior) of the spinal cord, this injury affects the victim’s coordination, but most survivors retain their ability to move.
  • Cauda Equina Lesion: A cauda equina lesion is a specific type of damage caused to the nerves between the first and second lumbar. This results in a loss of sensation, but not of movement. With this form of injury, the nerves may repair and regenerate themselves.
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome: This injury causes asymmetrical damage, meaning only one side of the body is affected and is almost always left completely paralyzed.

Treating Spinal Injuries

Despite its rarity, the medical community has many resources dedicated to researching and treating SCI and all the side effects that come with it. A combination of surgery and physical therapy can improve the damage that comes with an SCI. There’s no surefire method to completely reverse the effects, however.

Surgery and Physical Therapy

When it comes to surgical interventions and spinal cord injuries, the operation’s timing depends heavily on the patient’s condition. The severity of the injury, its long term effects on the victim, and how they experienced the SCI all play a part. Typically, those with an incomplete SCI are treated more speedily than those with a complete SCI, because the chance that they’ll regain function is significantly higher.

Depending on the type of injury, surgeons typically perform one of two surgeries:

  • Spinal Decompression: Releases pressure on the spinal cord
  • Spinal Stabilization: Corrects the spine if it has been misaligned as a result of the initial injury.

Physical Therapy

Post operation, physical therapy is the single most effective way to promote recovery. It helps rebuild coordination, retain muscle tone, and improve posture. Physical therapists recommend spinal injury patients attend rehab sessions at least twice a week. It’s also beneficial to begin treatment as soon as a medical professional clears them to participate. 

We Can Help

Spinal injuries have a massive effect on day-to-day life. Simple tasks like moving around the house, running errands, or doing ordinary household chores becomes very difficult, especially in the immediate aftermath of an injury. Patients with complete SCI are often completely immobilized and require round-the-clock care.

These caregiving tasks often fall to family or friends, which can be a tremendous burden for even the most loving individuals. During these challenging times, Generations Home Care can help. Our caregiving staff can pitch in with the everyday, non-medical tasks and chores that will help SCI patients remain independent and happy. At they same time, they can provide much-needed support for family caregivers.

About Generations Home Care

Generations Home Care offers personalized in-home care and support services to those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier and independent life.

We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. We take a holistic approach and emphasize a consistent, client-centered plan of care.

Our Specialty Services Include:

  • Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
  • Short-term postoperative care during recovery periods.
  • Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
  • Veteran’s connection to care program.
  • Live-in services and couples care.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.

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About the author - Josh Friesen

Living with Multiple Sclerosis Living With Paraplegia & Quadriplegia