Before the 1950s, a spinal cord injury was almost the same as a death sentence. There was little likelihood that people survived and recovered mobility from severe spinal damage. However, modern science makes full recovery possible.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the average stay for injured patients dropped from 24 days in the 1970s to 11 days in 2018; the rehabilitation lengths also dropped from 98 days to 34 days.
The statistics prove that spinal cord recovery is possible and thriving under our healthcare system, but medical treatment is still a challenging process for injured victims. There are several stages for healing after a spinal injury:
The first stage in recovery is identifying the damage - which isn't as easy as it sounds. If you are in a car accident, you may not realize you have an injury until hours, days or weeks after the incident. Also, you may not know what to look out for in terms of symptoms or signs of a spinal cord injury. Identifying an injury quickly helps the treatment and recovery process significantly, so make sure to visit a medical professional after any crash or car accident.
Once you receive a diagnosis for your injury, the hospital provides treatment and care to the spinal cord. It's important to note that doctors are usually trying to stabilize the spine, not wholly heal the fracture or break. Doctors have to prioritize stabilization due to the healing process. It's possible you may have surgery, receive medication or go through other life-saving treatments to prevent further damage on your spine.
The longest stage of recovery happens after you are released from the hospital. You work with doctors to develop a strategy to treat your injury after being discharged. You may attend physical therapy for more severe damage to the spinal cord, or you may have to modify your daily life to accommodate your treatments.
There is a strong likelihood that you will never fully recover from the injury and have emotional scars that linger. However, you cannot give up on the road to recovery because your spinal injury does not consume your entire identity.