The spinal cord is one of the most intricate, important and delicate structures of the body. Running from the base of the skull down the middle of the back, it’s responsible for transmitting messages to and from the brain.
When we decide to lift a cup or kick a ball, those instructions are transmitted to our muscles via the spinal cord. The cord is also involved in autonomic activity such as breathing and the beating of the heart as well as bowel and bladder control.
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can take many forms. Relatively simple whiplash damage to the neck can cause months of pain and discomfort. When the spinal cord is fully severed, however, the individual is likely to lose all sensation and movement below the level of injury.
Typically, the higher up the damage, the more severely the body can be affected and this will often have life-changing and permanent implications for those who sustain such an injury.
While spinal injuries are generally caused by accidents, illness that affects the spinal cord can also lead to full or partial paralysis.
Advances are being made every day in the world of spinal cord injury research but, as yet, there is no real definitive cure. Assistive technology such as exo-skeletons that aid movement and breakthrough spinal cord injury treatment options such as epidural stimulation are helping to change the outlook for individuals who have sustained a serious injury to the spine and improve the potential for recovery in the future.
However, as the common phrase goes ‘prevention is better than cure’. And whilst the accidents or incidents that lead to a spinal cord injury might at times seem unavoidable, there are still some useful ways to help prevent serious damage from occurring.
A lot will depend on the risk that you expose yourself to. It’s not just by chance that the majority of people with SCIs are men and that accidents often occur during sporting or adventure-related activity.
Contact sports such as American football have a higher instance of spinal cord injury as you might expect. But even if you love riding a bike or skateboarding, you are going to be at risk. Taking a little time to protect yourself or anticipate the dangers can help:
Kids can do some pretty dangerous things and most parents worry about their safety constantly. There are a few precautions you can take:
It’s not always possible to avoid accidents but by taking care and following general health and safety precautions the risk can be minimised.
For example, a significant number of spinal injuries are caused by car accidents and whilst wearing a seatbelt does not ensure complete immunity from injury occurring, it is certainly safer than not wearing one.
Try to implement these simple tips for preventing spinal injuries and you should keep yourself and your family a lot safer.
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