Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Specialist in Hinsdale, IL
Spinal cord injuries are among the most severe and debilitating injuries, as they can completely disable a person’s sensation and movement in over half of their body. To consult our highly trained professionals at Progressive Physical Therapy, call us today or book an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 15 Spinning Wheel Road Ste. 24 Hinsdale, IL 60521.
Table of Contents:
The spinal cord is a cylindrical bundle of nerve tissue that connects virtually every part of the body to the brain. It is protected by a tough outer layer called the myelin sheath, which is made of fatty tissue. A spinal cord injury occurs when the myelin sheath is damaged, which can leave an individual with decreased feeling or movement in their legs and/or arms, among other problems.
Every spinal cord injury and its recovery process is unique, so it is impossible to give an exact time frame for recovery without factoring in the various aspects of the injury. With this being said, research shows that the most recovery occurs within the first three to six months after a spinal cord injury. Immediately after a spinal cord injury, the central nervous system goes through a period of heightened neuroplasticity, which is the central nervous system’s ability to make adaptive changes and reorganize its neural circuitry based on our behaviors, such as the way we move. It is the primary mechanism that allows individuals to recover functions affected by a spinal cord injury and is also prevalent in brain injuries to help patients relearn certain functions.
However, it is important to note that not all spinal cord injuries can recover by using neuroplasticity; if neurons in the spinal cord are damaged beyond repair, they are not capable of regenerating and therefore not able to utilize neuroplasticity. As a result, recovery after a spinal cord injury heavily relies on unaffected neural pathways for adaptive changes such as neuroplasticity. The chances of recovery are greater when there are more neural pathways that remain connected through the site of injury.
While there are no guarantees, there is almost always hope for at least some improvement after a spinal cord injury. It is important for individuals to be patient in the months following their injury. Things to remember include:
• People with a complete injury often regain control of one or two levels of muscle movement, meaning that there is some improvement, but not a full restoration to the previous state of health.
• People with an incomplete injury are more likely to regain control of more muscle movement compared to people with a complete injury; however, there is no way to know how much, if any muscle movement, will return.
• As long as the individual is seeing some improvement, such as regaining muscle movement, their chances for improvement are better.
• However, the longer an individual goes without seeing any improvement, the lower their chances for improvement.
In some cases, damage to the spinal cord can make a full recovery, but it depends on two main factors: where the injury occurred and the extent of the damage sustained.
• Location — When the upper part of the spine is injured, the total injury tends to be more severe as there is a risk of losing movement and feeling in the arms, legs, and trunk; there may also be difficulties with speech. Lower spinal injuries may lose movement from the waist down, but the individual will still be able to breathe on their own and use their upper limbs, including their arms and hands.
• Completeness — The completeness of a spinal injury is the extent of damage and the amount of function that is lost. A complete injury results in a total loss of feeling and motor function below the injury site; an incomplete injury means the person still has some feeling or motor function.
Physical therapy helps in the rehabilitation of a spinal cord injury in the following ways:
• Minimizing muscle atrophy
• Improving breathing and circulation
• Increasing mobility
• Reducing feelings of depression and anxiety
• Empowering patients to make positive changes to their health
At Progressive Physical Therapy, our team of physical therapists can help you recover from a spinal cord injury and improve your quality of life. Visit us today to book an appointment with our spinal cord injury rehabilitation specialist. For more information, call us today or book an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 15 Spinning Wheel Road Ste. 24 Hinsdale, IL 60521. We serve patients from Chicago IL, Oak Park IL, Lombard IL, Downers Grove IL, Bridgeview IL, and Oak Lawn IL.