Report: Paralysis isn't only impediment to spinal cord injury recovery — 10 takeaways Featured

Written by  Adam Schrag | Thursday, 16 February 2017 18:00
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A study by Chicago-based Loyola University Health System researchers has found that spinal cord patients are plagued by many different types of ailments after injury.  

Here are 10 things you should know:


1. Spinal cord injuries make patients more vulnerable to cardiovascular disease; pneumonia; life-threatening blood clots; bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction; gastrointestinal problems such as constipation; pressure ulcers and chronic pain, according to the report.


2. Of all spinal cord injuries:

  • 80 percent occur to males aged 15 to 35.
  • 94 percent of patients experience chronic pain. The researchers argue that the pain is at its worst during the first year after the injury but eventually decreases over time.
  • 25 percent are impacted by alcohol intoxication.
  • 53 percent of patients are left partially or fully tetraplegic.
  • 42 percent of patients are left partially or fully paraplegic.


3. Mortality is highest in the first year after injury among patients with severe injuries, and life expectancy has failed to improve in the past 30 years.


4. Causes of spinal cord injuries vary:

46 percent are caused by motor vehicle accidents

  • 22 percent are caused by falls
  • 16 percent are caused by violence
  • 12 percent are considered sports injuries


5. Spinal cord injury patients will pay between $320,000 and $985,000 for first-year treatment and around $5 million during their lifetime.


6. Pneumonia and other pulmonary problems are the most common systemic complications following spinal cord injuries, but cardiovascular disease is the most likely to cause death. The initial injury's severity impacts the severity of the ailment that follows.


7. Deep vein thrombosis occurs in 47 percent to 90 percent of spinal cord patients while pulmonary embolism occurs in 20 percent to 50 percent of patients.


8. Post-injury life expectancy ranges from a year-and-a-half for ventilator-dependent patients above 60-years old to 52.6 years for 20-year old patients with preserved motor function.


9. Among patients who aren't completely paralyzed, 80 percent are able to stand one year later and 50 percent can walk out of the hospital by then, with improvements continuing for two years after the injury.


10. The report was written by Rochelle Sweis, DO, and Jose Biller, MD, of Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Ill.


More spine-related articles:
Guilty verdict for neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch for causing 'injury to an elderly person' — 5 things to know

PEEK vs. Acrylic cage for spinal fusion: 5 key notes

Phillips Co.'s TetraStem helps paraplegic patients walk and function — 6 details

Last modified on Thursday, 16 February 2017 18:12
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