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Long Term Care For Spinal Cord Injury Patients Is Necessary


Spinal cord injuries are virtually invariably fatal. The initial therapy usually entails surgery and other hospital-based medical treatments, and the following step is extensive physical and emotional recovery. If you or a loved one has suffered from this horrific accident, they need long term care for spinal cord injury.

Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury causes damage to the spinal cord or adjacent tissues and bones. You may lose function or mobility in different sections of your body depending on the severity of the injury.

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

Here are some of the common symptoms of spinal cord injury.

COPYRIGHT_SPINE: Published on https://spinal-injury.net/long-term-care-for-spinal-cord-injury/ by Dr. Bill Butcher on 2022-09-28T04:10:14.111Z

  • Back pain that is excruciating or pressure in your neck, head, or back.
  • Any area of your body may experience weakness, incoordination, or paralysis.
  • Hand, finger, foot, or toe numbness, tingling, or lack of sensation.
  • Inability to control one's bladder or bowels.
  • Balance and walking difficulties.

Spinal Cord Injury Treatment

Surgery, medication, and physical therapy are all options for treatment. A more recent method seeks to stimulate functioning nerves.

Two highlighted points showing pain and injury in spinal cord
Two highlighted points showing pain and injury in spinal cord

Spinal Cord Injury Care Plan

Being immobile for long periods of time after a spinal cord injury inhibits blood circulation and can cause clots to form. Blood thinners, leg pumps, and special stockings can all help improve circulation and keep fluid from building up.

A person with a spinal cord injury may experience muscle spasms that cause their limbs to twitch or "jump." This is relatively uncommon and, regrettably, does not indicate that the person is regaining feelings or movement in those areas.

Some nerves have become more sensitive, but because the spinal cord has been hurt, the brain can't use the information from these nerves to interpret and control movement.

Drinking plenty of water is crucial because it benefits the body in a variety of ways, including keeping congestion from becoming thick and difficult to cough out. Long-term care for spinal cord injuries includes:

Avoiding Respiratory Issues

Individuals with SCI should also have a long-term plan in place to avoid respiratory issues. To keep your posture and mobility in good shape, sit up in your wheelchair every day and turn over in bed often to prevent congestion from building up.

Coughing is a common method for reducing respiratory issues; individuals can cough using machines, have someone assist them with manual coughing or cough on their own. An abdominal binder should be worn to help the intercostal and abdominal muscles.

A Balanced Diet Is Necessary

Individuals with SCI should make an effort to eat a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight. Weight control is crucial since respiratory disorders are more common in people who are underweight or overweight.

Smoking Is Extremely Prohibited

Under no circumstances should you smoke! Smoking not only causes cancer, but it also causes less oxygen in the blood, more congestion in the chest and windpipe, less ability to clear secretions from the lungs, damage to lung tissue, and a higher risk of lung infections like pneumonia and bronchitis.

Taking Care Of Lower Limbs

The lower limbs are the most visible parts of the body damaged by a spinal cord injury. Depending on their level of mobility limitation, the wounded party may need to learn to utilize leg braces, crutches, or a wheelchair.

Many people with serious back injuries lose movement in their upper body as well, so keeping their arms and shoulders strong is critical. Because the spinal cord connects all of the body's systems, a person who has been hurt may need to relearn how to do things like eat, bathe, and go to the bathroom.

Risk Education Is Necessary

Anyone with spinal damage should be educated on the hazards of "pressure injuries," which are injuries to the skin and tissues beneath the skin.

To avoid such injuries, be mindful of your body alignment, weight distribution, and shifting between positions to reduce pressure on the skin and underlying tissue. If you sit still for too long or move around without being careful, you could get bruises or tears on your skin.

Regular lung care is needed for injuries along the mid-to-upper spine, as the breathing muscles may not operate as well as they once did. A lack of caution for respiratory problems may result in illnesses such as pneumonia.

Two persons helping an elderly man to walk
Two persons helping an elderly man to walk

Take Care Of The Patient's Needs

Following the first recuperation period, long-term therapy options are determined by the injured person's individual needs. In the most severe circumstances, a person with a spinal injury may require daily assistance with most parts of their life.

Otherwise, the person may be able to resume a mostly regular level of activity with only minor restrictions. The level of care required may alter as you mend and recover.


A period of monitoring by treating physicians is required in all cases to ensure that a spinal injury remains stable. There may be more X-rays and other tests that need to be done to make sure that a back injury is not getting better or worse.


Counseling is strongly advised because spinal cord injury can affect every aspect of your life. Healing takes time and is frequently painful and unpleasant.

People who have suffered severe injuries must learn to live with their new restrictions, and a qualified mental health practitioner can help them do so.

Breathing Exercises

Here are five exercises that will prove really beneficial to spinal cord injury patients.

  • Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before exhaling slowly.
  • Take a deep inhale, inhaling as much air as you can as quickly as you can, then exhale as quickly as you can.
  • Take a deep breath and hold it, then another deep breath and hold it, and another before gently exhaling.
  • Take a deep breath in, then exhale as fast and as long as you can.
  • If you have a spirometer, use it to exercise as well as track your improvement.

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation & Recovery: A Range of Therapies

People Also Ask

Can You Fully Recover From A Spinal Cord Injury?

Unfortunately, there is no way to repair spinal cord damage. However, researchers are constantly developing novel treatments, including drugs and prostheses, that may accelerate nerve cell regeneration or improve the function of the nerves that survive a spinal cord injury.

Does A Spinal Cord Injury Shorten Your Life?

The degree of the injury, the location of the injury on the spine, and age all influence life expectancy. A person over 60 who needs a ventilator to breathe has a life expectancy of 1.5 years, while a person under 20 who still has motor function has a life expectancy of 52.6 years.

What Is The Best Treatment For Spinal Cord Injury?

  • Physical therapy for muscle strengthening, communication, and mobility.
  • Wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces are examples of assistive aids.
  • Communication using adaptive devices.
  • Occupational therapy focused on fine motor skills.


The major objectives of long term care for spinal cord injury are to reduce complications and increase functional independence. Because every spinal cord injury is different, it is important to have a rehabilitation program that is tailored to each person's needs.

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About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher - With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

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