Health Issue: Spinal Cord Injury
Improved emergency care for people with spinal cord injuries and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation can minimize damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities. Respiratory complications are often an indication of the severity of spinal cord injury. About one-third of those with injury to the neck area will need help with breathing and require respiratory support. The steroid drug methylprednisolone appears to reduce the damage to nerve cells if it is given within the first 8 hours after injury. Rehabilitation programs combine physical therapies with skill-building activities and counseling to provide social and emotional support. Electrical stimulation of nerves by neural prosthetic devices may restore specific functions, including bladder, breathing, cough, and arm or leg movements, though eligibility for use of these devices depends on the level and type of the spinal cord injury.