Chronic Spinal Cord Injury
After sustaining a spinal cord injury from any cause, e.g. after a traumatic event like a motor vehicle accident, hemorrhage, tumor, prior surgery, infection (meningitis), it is common that some degree of functional loss occurs, such as weakness and numbness of the arms and/or legs, Many will also develop symptoms of spasticity (involuntary movement of the legs, trunk, and arms), abnormal blood pressure regulation and sweating from autonomic nervous system dysfunction (commonly referred to as AD), and pain in parts of their body that is paralyzed (neuropathic pain). After a period of recovery and rehabilitation a patient may see some return of function, and symptoms of spasticity, AD, and pain may stabilize or improve, commonly with the aid of medications.
In some however, anywhere from two months after the injury to more than 40 year after the injury, a progression of these symptoms can occur. For example, an individual with an incomplete spinal cord injury who was walking may start noticing progressive weakness and sensory loss in the legs with perhaps worsening bowel and bladder function, or an individual with a complete spinal cord injury who is wheelchair bound might notice that he or she can’t wheel the wheelchair as easily or do “weight shifts” as easily as they used to, or perhaps can’t feed or dress themselves as easily as they used. They may also notice that their spasticity is suddenly worsening, that they are developing severe pains in parts of their body that may have no feeling, that they are experiencing poor blood pressure control (either very high or low), or have begun to sweat abnormally unrelated to the climate.
These late sequelae of symptoms in those with chronic spinal cord injuries are often caused by secondary changes to the spinal cord and canal that occur and progress after the injury.
Most Common Symptoms Treated:
- Progressive loss of sensation and strength in the arms, trunk, and legs
- Worsening respiratory function
- Worsening bowel, bladder, or sexual function
- New or worsening spasticity of the legs, trunk, and arms
- New or worsening pain in parts of the body where the sensation is absent or abnormal
- New or worsening blood pressure regulation (high or low) and sweating commonly referred to as AD (autonomic dysreflexia)