Learning that you, a family member or friend has gotten a spinal cord injury is devastating and overwhelming news. The best way to combat your feelings of helplessness and confusion is to arm yourself with information on what a spinal cord injury is, and what it means in terms of short-term planning and long-range goals.
This New Injury Packet is designed to help those who are beginning to locate spinal cord injury (SCI) information for someone who is newly injured. Navigating your way through this new world can be overwhelming. We have developed a list of the top ten questions to start you on your way.
If after going through this information you have additional questions, please contact the Paralysis Resource Center's Information Specialist team at 1-800-539-7309 (toll-free) or 973-467-8270 if you are calling internationally.
This website provides a wealth of information for the newly injured as well as for those living with paralysis for years. You can find valuable links to other organizations as well as information specific to advances in SCI research. The Reeve Foundation offers a free book called the Paralysis Resource Guide (PRG). To order call 1-800-539-7309 or preview it online.
It is important to connect with others in the spinal cord community whose circumstances are similar to your own. Reeve Foundation Paralysis Community's goal is to connects patients, families, friends and caregivers so they can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope. It's free to join.
What is a spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injuries commonly lead to paralysis; they involve damage to the nerves within the bony protection of the spinal canal. The most common cause of spinal cord dysfunction is trauma (including motor vehicle accidents, falls, shallow diving, acts of violence, and sports injuries). Damage can also occur from various diseases acquired at birth or later in life, from tumors, electric shock, and loss of oxygen related to surgical or underwater mishaps.
The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of function to occur. The spinal cord can be bruised, stretched, or crushed. Since the spinal cord coordinates body movement and sensation, an injured spinal cord loses the ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the body's system that controls sensory, motor, and autonomic function.
This information packet will take you through the basics of spinal cord injury. Since each injury is different as to its level and severity, the answers are provided in general terms so that you have the information you need to make the best decisions for your loved one.
10 Most Frequently Asked Questions:
- What emergency procedures occur following a spinal cord injury or what is suspected to be an SCI?
- How is a spinal cord injury defined at the level of injury, what is the difference between a complete and an incomplete injury?
- What are the secondary conditions associated with paralysis -- how will the SCI affect other organs and systems in the body.
- How to locate an appropriate rehabilitation facility?
- How to obtain health care if the injured person is uninsured or underinsured at the time of injury?
- When and how to apply for federal Social Security benefits?
- What is the clinical trials process?
- Where to locate resources for funding of rehabilitation and necessary medical equipment?
- What is the promise of stem cell research; should I seek unapproved treatments?
- How to deal with depression and adjustment to spinal cord injury?
Note: The information contained in this document is presented for the purpose of educating and informing you about spinal cord injury, paralysis and its effects. Nothing contained in this message should be construed nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Should you have any health care related questions, please call or see your physician or other qualified health care provider promptly. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this message.