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Hopes and fears for spinal cord injury victims


The words "spinal cord injury" are capable of making anyone feel anxiety, especially when contemplating the outcome and effects of such an injury. In Connecticut, most spinal cord injury patients are male, which is similar to the rest of the United States. Injuries to the spine can be extremely dangerous for both adults and children, and, until a few decades ago, anyone with an injured spinal cord was definitely not expected to recover. Today, with the advancement of medical treatment, varying degrees of revival have been seen in patients, although total recovery can only be found in the rarest of rare cases.

According to available statistics, about 12,000 cases of spinal cord injury occur every year in the United States. Almost 40 percent of the cases stem from motor vehicle accidents. About one quarter of spinal cord injuries result from slips or falls and, more than a third of the cases result from other trauma, such as gunshots, sports injuries or other causes.

A spinal cord injury needs to be treated aggressively in order to enable maximum recovery of the patient. Emergency care, antibiotics and rehabilitation are the only ways to ensure that there is as little damage as possible and that the patient's nervous system is restored to the greatest possible extent.

Today, more than 250,000 thousand Americans are living with injuries to the spinal cord. Annually, care and management of the costs of spinal injury cases countrywide is close to $3 billion. With further advancement in scientific research, there is hope that spinal cord injuries can be fully healed in the future with the help of regeneration of spinal nerves, cell replacement technology, better protection of nerve cells and advanced rehabilitation techniques.

Source: NINDS.NIH.gov, "Spinal cord injury: hope through research," accessed on Dec.9, 2014

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