There are two common causes of spinal cord lesion:
This occurs when the oxygen supply to the brain is reduced in the minutes and hours after the accident, worsening the damage already caused by the first injury.
This can be caused by an obstruction to an airway or serious blood loss.
Trauma (road traffic accidents, falls etc.)
Disease (spina bifida, tumours etc.)
Spinal cord injuries can be organised into two categories:
Complete lesion - no function, voluntary movement or physical sensation below the level of the lesion. Both sides of the body are always equally affected.
Incomplete lesion – the effects are variable dependent on the severity of the lesion. An individual may have more functioning or movement on one side of the body than the other, or may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved.
In addition to a loss of sensation and motor function below the point of injury, individuals with spinal cord injuries will often experience other changes. The effects of a spinal cord injury are dependent on the type and level of the lesion. Effects are seen below the level of a lesion and can present as a reduction or complete:loss of sensation, loss of voluntary movement, loss of proprioception (awareness of joint position in space), loss of bladder and bowel function and loss of sexual function.
Physiotherapy for patients with spinal cord injuries can include;exercises and stretches, joint care, pain control, anticipating and minimising secondary complications, provision of equipment, orthoses, and wheelchairs, use of specialised exercise equipment, teach transfers (getting in and out of a wheelchair, bed, car, shower/bath and onto and off a toilet), teaching wheelchair skills, hydrotherapy treatment, breathing exercises and chest clearance techniques, referral to appropriate health professionals.
The effects of physiotherapy can be:
increased quality of life, increased independence, increased muscle strength, increased energy levels, reduced pain and muscle spasms, reduced stiffness and reduced risk of chest infections.