You were driving on the highway when a truck driver didn't see you and merged into your lane. With nowhere to go, your vehicle was struck, pushing you into the barrier wall. You don't remember much of what happened next.
You woke up in the hospital several days later. You had surgery, and you were placed in an induced coma. You have a head injury, but you can communicate. That's when you notice that you can't feel your legs.
As a result of the crash, you've suffered a spinal cord injury. That injury has left you paralyzed from your waist down. You know there are few treatment options for you, so now you have to live with this life-changing injury.
How does a spinal injury affect the body?
The spinal cord controls more than just movement. It helps the central nervous system perform many tasks including things like breathing or going to the bathroom. If you suffer an injury to the lower part of your spinal cord, you may notice it's harder to know when you need to use the restroom or that you can't feel or move your legs.
Isn't the spinal cord protected by the body?
Yes, but that protection isn't 100 percent effective. The bones and fluids around the spinal cord work as shock absorption. The problem is that if the spinal cord swells, it is contained and can't expand. This causes even more damage than the initial injury. This swelling has to be treated rapidly to prevent irreversible damage.
Why aren't there treatments for spinal cord injuries?
There are a few. Today's scientists have also been working on systems that would allow the nerves to bypass a damaged area, which could restore functions below the point of injury. Others are working on techniques to regrow cells. For now, understand that it is hard to treat spinal injuries because the central nervous system doesn't have the ability to divide its cells or create new cells. That means that the CNS doesn't have any way to repair itself on the whole.
If you suffer a spinal cord injury, any amount of recovery is a good recovery. You may need to seek compensation so you can get as much help learning to live with this disability as possible.