A spine injury can result in permanent complications and disabilities, even when the injury is considered “minor.” With ample medical treatments, though, some spine injuries and forms of spinal cord damage can be alleviated to the point that the patient can live quite comfortably. The type of medical treatments and rehabilitative options will vary from case to case, though, because not all spine injuries can be treated in the same way.
Ultimately, your spine injury treatment plan is something you have to discuss with your doctor. They can prescribe certain treatments based on their diagnosis. But it can help to go into that conversation with some knowledge about what options might be available to you or others in your situation.
Spinal Cord Surgery for Severe Cases
As a general rule of medical treatment, surgery should be used as a last resort only. If your spine injury is severe, though, then surgery might be the only option that can make a noticeable difference in your mobility and the management of your day-to-day pain.
Different types of back and spine surgery include the following and more:
- Spinal fusions
- Vertebroplasty procedures
- Artificial disc replacements
Your doctor might recommend surgery if your injury affects the spine more than the spinal cord. Surgery will also be more likely if your spine injury could potentially cause further harm or if it is already life-threatening, such as a spinal cord injury that has caused you to suffer a respiratory debilitation due to partial paralysis.
Again, spine surgeries are not the first option considered in most cases because all surgeries carry a certain level of risk. To learn more about spine surgery to correct an injury, you should speak with your medical provider.
Locomotor Training Exercises
Spine injury patients with severe to moderate injuries might require locomotor training exercises for months or years. Locomotor training involves using special medical equipment that helps the patient relearn how to walk with a spinal impairment. Specialized treadmills and walking stations are commonly used in locomotor rehabilitation rooms, for example.
The benefits of locomotor training include:
- Restoration of your ability to walk
- Improved balance when walking
- Increased comfort during day-to-day activities
- More comfortable sensations in your legs and feet
Locomotor training and rehabilitation are usually used with or in replacement of surgery. It is not often used on its own unless the orthopedic physician working on your medical case is confident that your injury will be corrected on its own and not worsened due to the therapy.
Ongoing Physical Therapy
When spine surgery and locomotor training exercises are not needed, physical therapy will still likely be required to treat a spine injury. Physical therapy sessions can take many forms and involve a variety of exercises, equipment, and treatment specialists. Depending on the form and severity of your spine injury, you might be instructed to undergo routine physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises for weeks, months, years, or for the rest of your life to ensure that the injury doesn’t worsen.
Physical therapy or PT for spine injuries can include:
- Cardiorespiratory training: A consequence of many spine injuries is the weakening of the cardiorespiratory system, i.e., your heart, diaphragm, and other interconnected organs. This is more likely when a spine injury is severe and causes partial paralysis of the diaphragm. Physical therapy can be used to restrengthen these muscles to improve your overall cardiorespiratory health. As your breathing and pulse get stronger, you may begin to experience other health improvements.
- Mobility exercises: General mobility exercises are a cornerstone of physical therapy for spine injury patients. A certified physical therapist can create a list of exercises to complete during your routine sessions that target your specific disabilities and needs.
- Strength exercises: The loss of muscular strength is one of the most common but also least expected consequences of a spine injury. Without a steady back to assist with walking, lifting, and other typical movements, all types of exercises eventually become more difficult. A focus of PT for a spine injury patient will be various strength exercises to build not just back muscles but also any other muscle group that might have atrophied as a result of the injury and its debilitations.
- Stretching: No physical therapy session would be complete without guided and careful stretching of affected body parts. If your spine injury has caused numbness in one leg, for example, then you might be shown specialized stretches to improve blood flow and sensation to that leg.
Medications & Painkillers
When a spine injury causes chronic pain, a painkiller or another prescription medicine might be in order. Painkillers can help the patient cope with the pain without the need for intensive surgery. Although, taking prescription medication for years can cause other unintended side effects, like an increased risk of addiction to that substance. If your spine injury is permanent, then your doctor will need to consider alternatives to strong painkillers that you can use more often or more consistently.
Factoring Future Treatments into an Injury Claim
No matter what types of treatments are used for your spine injury, it is important to understand how they can factor into your claim. If your spine injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you can file a claim against them in pursuit of owed compensation. The cost of your treatments, whatever they might be, can be factored into the damages that you demand from the liable party.
Medical costs associated with spine injury care can be expensive because the care can be so extensive. It is not unusual for the total cost of care across a lifetime to exceed seven figures. For this reason, insurance companies are prone to pushing back against any spine injury claim filed against them and their policyholder. To give yourself a fighting chance in the face of such stubborn opposition, you should always develop your case with the assistance of a professional personal injury attorney.
Spine injury clients in Connecticut can come to Carter Mario Law Firm for reliable and compassionate legal counsel from a winning team of attorneys. Contact us today for a free consultation. Be sure to ask about our 8-Point Guarantee!