NDIS: Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a flexible structure that protects the nerves that run along your spine and control movement across your body. And a spinal cord injury is an umbrella term referring to any injuries sustained to the spinal cord or the nerves connected at the end of the spinal canal.
When these nerves are damaged there can often be a widespread and extensive effect, ranging from spasms and twitches to full body paralysis and a whole host of other issues in between.
To help you understand how this issue affects the body, how it’s treated, and how those who are affected can get the help they need, we’ve outlined these details below.
How does a spinal cord injury affect you?
The majority of spinal cord injuries are due to accidents and physical injury. Almost half of all spinal cord injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, with falls often causing them in people over 65.
Some other causes include sporting injuries, violent incidents like stabbings or physical attacks, excessive alcohol consumption as well as cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis.
While there are a wide range of symptoms, all spinal cord injuries can be classed as either complete or incomplete.
- Complete injury: this means all feeling and movement below the point of injury is lost, and results in paraplegia (loss of function from waist down) or quadriplegia/tetraplegia (loss of function from neck down).
- Incomplete injury: This means that some movement and feeling is still present, but usually in a diminished capacity.
When these injuries occur, there are a range of other symptoms that present themselves. These can be temporary or permanent, and include
- Altered sense or loss of feeling, most commonly the ability to distinguish if something is hot or cold.
- Spasms, exaggerated movements or overt reflexes to mild stimulus.
- Loss or reduced control of movement.
- Pain or tingling feeling in different parts of the body.
- Breathing difficulty, coughing and excess fluid or phlegm in the lungs.
- Altered sexual function, sensitivity and fertility.
How are spinal injuries treated?
Treatment of spinal cord issue is virtually always a long term management of the condition. Currently there’s no way to reverse the damage, but through specialised rehab and therapy, some movement and mobility can be regained.
Due to the wide-ranging nature of spinal cord injuries, each and every person affected will need a tailored approach to treatment and management. Complete spinal cord injury almost always requires high level assistance with day to day movement.
However, there are some general options that can help in cases of incomplete spinal cord injury, which include
- Modifiable spinal supports to allow for regular movement and stability of the spine.
- Bracing and semi-rigid supports the help stabilise affected body parts and compensate for limited movement.
- Physiotherapy and rehab to train the areas of the body with higher levels of function to assist the affected areas.
What help is available?
If you or someone you care for is affected by a spinal cord injury, trying to find the resources and assistance to manage can be overwhelming.
Thankfully there are systems set up to help people in your situation, the primary one being the NDIS. Set up to provide not only financial support but community and resource engagement, participants and their carers can get the help they need.
To help connect in with it, Spinal Cord Injury Australia has set up a simple resource: SCIA.org
In addition, there are a wide range of community groups and social networks to provide emotional and social support, and seeking these out can help not only the participant, but carers as well, to find people in the same situation to share their struggles and victories.
It’s important to know you’re not alone, and with the right help, you can find enjoyment and fulfilment in everyday life.
Learn more: Bauerfeind and the NDIS.
Bauerfeind products are developed at our innovation and manufacturing facility in Zeulenroda, Germany. Based on years of scientific research, our award-winning braces and support garments are highly recommended by medical professionals and athletes worldwide.
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