WHAT IS A SPINAL CORD?
The spinal cord is a network of nerves that run from the brain’s base and down the length of your back, within your spine. The spinal cord is protected by spinal fluid and the bones of the spine which are called vertebrae.
The nerve fibres send messages to the brain which in turn sends messages to the rest of the body. These messages may be for movement, sensation, feeling or pain.
WHAT IS A SPINAL CORD INJURY?
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is when damage occurs to the spinal cord, through illness or trauma at any level of the spine. This results in a change, either temporary or permanent, in the normal motor, sensory or autonomic function of the cord.
If the spinal cord is damaged, the signals that go between our brain and the rest of the body can’t get through. This results in a loss of movement and sensation from below the level of injury.
There are many different reasons a spinal cord injury can occur, but the most common causes of a spinal cord injury include:
- Road traffic accidents.
- Sports injuries.
- Violence inflicted injuries.
There are 2 main types of a spinal cord injury, these are known as ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’.
Complete spinal cord injury – is the most severe. In these cases it means there is enough trauma to cause damage across the whole width of the spinal cord which results in a compete and permanent loss of function and sensation below the level of injury.
Incomplete spinal cord injury – is more common, in these cases it means that areas of the spinal cord remain intact, meaning that instead of a complete loss of function, some mobility and sensation will remain.
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF INJURY AND WHAT MOVENENT CAN BE LOST.
SIDE AFFECTS OF A SPINAL CORD INJURY
AUTONOMIC DYSREFLEXIA (AD)
Not everyone will suffer from AD but this can occur in individuals with a SCI at level T6 and above. It is an abnormal overreaction of the involuntary (autonomic) nervous system to stimulation. The reaction may include change in heart rate, high blood pressure, excessive sweating, muscle spasms, headache, change in skin colour (paleness, redness, blue/grey tinge colour). Bladder issues are the most common trigger of AD. Bowel and some skin conditions can also cause AD.
Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is when the pressure in your blood vessels is unusually low.
Symptoms of low blood pressure can include dizziness, feeling sick and fainting.
Treatment for low blood pressure will depend on what’s causing it. It might involve things like wearing support stockings or drinking more water.
Causes of low blood pressure include ageing, pregnancy and some medical conditions or medicines.
Cervical and thoracic SCI’s can weaken the chest and abdominal muscles resulting in respiratory infections such as common cold, flu & pneumonia.
Pressure sores can occur due to less movement which is why it is important to have regular pressure relief and be turned regularly when in bed for long periods of time. It is important to seek treatment immediately for pressure sores as they can quickly become infected.
BLADDER AND BOWEL ISSUES
A spinal cord injury sometimes interrupts communication between the brain and the nerves in the spinal cord that control bladder and bowel function. This can cause bladder and bowel dysfunction known as neurogenic bladder or neurogenic bowel. People with multiple sclerosis or spina bifida might have similar problems.
Signs and symptoms of neurogenic bladder may include:
Loss of bladder control
Inability to empty the bladder
Urinary tract infections.
Signs of neurogenic bowel include:
Loss of bowel control
Lack of bowel movements.
There are treatment options and other ways to manage your bladder and bowel which should be discussed with your medical professionals.
MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL BEING
A big number of SCI’s are due to a major/catastrophic event happening and because of this an individual will have to face a new way of life which can be mentally and emotionally challenging. It is important to speak to professionals/family/friends to help you accept your new way of life and all the challenges you may face.
BARRIERS & SUPPORT
No finances to adapt home etc, may have to move home for various reasons, accessibility at home and in community, transportation.
Accepting changes to life, untreated distress, grief/loss of previous life, relationships.
Learning how to look after your body.
Claiming benefits and waiting for them to come through.
BENEFITS TO CLAIM
Universal Credit – Get Help with living costs
PIP – Personal Independence Payment is to help with living costs if your suffering from an illness, disability or mental health condition
Housing Benefit – Get help towards paying your rent
Council Tax Benefit – Reduced council tax payments
Disabled Facilities – Get support towards adapting your home
Grants from Charities – Various supporting charities may be able to offer support grants
We are always on the look out for people to get involved in our charity and events wether that’s helping raise money for our sponsored events and simply becoming a volunteer, we’d love for you to get involved and help us spread the word.
Please see below different ways to become a volunteer at our events:
Help the team set up various parts of the events
Help the team take down various parts of the event
Volunteer on the day of the event
Keep our event clean
Volunteer on a stall
Help raise vital funds through purchasing raffle tickets and gain a chance to win some great prizes
Alternatively, why not sponsor Quad-Rebuild and the fantastic work we do