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How common are spinal cord injuries?

Approximately 253,000 people in the United States have sustained traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI), with more than 11,000 new cases of SCI emerging in the U.S. every year. Since 2000, 77.8% of SCIs reported to the national database have occurred among males.

What are the leading causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries?

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of SCI (46.9%), followed by falls, then acts of violence, and sports injuries.

What are the signs of a spinal cord injury?

  • Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, head or back
  • Tingling or loss of sensation in the hand, fingers, feet, or toes
  • Partial or complete loss of control over any part of the body
  • Urinary or bowel urgency, incontinence, or retention
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Abnormal band-like sensations in the thorax- pain, pressure
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • Unusual lumps on the head or spine

What is the treatment?

Neurological problems often involve several treatment options. Your doctor will discuss benefits, risks, and results of all treatments with you and will help you evaluate the treatment or combination of treatments best suited to your situation.

How successful is surgery and how long is the recovery process?

Surgical outcomes and the healing process vary depending on genetics, severity of the problem, life style differences, and attitude. Your neurosurgical team can tell you what other patients have experienced, and, based on your history, advise you what to expect during your own recovery process. Studies have shown that patients who participate in their health-care decisions and who receive emotional support often experience more successful outcomes than those who do not. Be sure that you and your family ask questions.