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Spinal cord injuries require extensive care

Car crash injuries come in a variety of forms. Some are worse than others, but all of them can have a negative impact on your life. One of the most serious injuries that a person might face is a spinal cord injury. While it is possible for these to be minor, it is much more likely that you will have life-long effects from the injury.

There are many different ways that a spinal cord injury might affect you. These are based on the location and type of injury. It can also depend on how quickly victims are able to get medical care after the injury occurs.

Location on the spinal cord

The spinal cord runs from the tailbone area up to the base of the skull. Injuries that are higher are usually associated with more effects than those that are lower. The effects of the injury always impact areas at or below the location of the injury.

The uppermost portion of the spine is known as the cervical spine. Injuries to this area can lead to paralysis of all four limbs. Below the cervical spine is the thoracic spine. Injuries here can lead to both legs being paralyzed, but victims often retain use of their arms. Injuries in the area below the thoracic spine, e.g., the lumbar spine, can impact the legs but won't affect the arms.

Types of injuries

While it is easy to assume that a spinal cord injury occurs if the spinal cord is severed, this isn't actually necessary. Many spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is bruised. It is possible for the injury's impacts to seem worse than what they will eventually be. This is because in the period immediately following the injury, the spinal cord will go into shock. The injury can cause inflammation, a loss of oxygen in the area and the release of a toxic chemical at the injury site. Once the inflammation and other symptoms of spinal shock abate, it is possible to regain some function.

Time to obtain treatment

It was once thought that leaving the spinal cord to rest and begin to heal was the best treatment for an injury in this area of the body. It is now known that prompt treatment to remove blood clots if they are present and to control inflammation can help minimize the effects of the injury, so getting treatment right away is imperative.

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