Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord trauma is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment to reduce the long-term effects. The time between the injury and treatment is a critical factor affecting the eventual outcome.
Corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone or methylprednisolone, are used to reduce swelling that may damage the spinal cord. If spinal cord compression is caused by a mass (such as a hematoma or bony fragment) that can be removed or brought down before there is total destruction of the nerves of the spine, paralysis may in some cases be reduced or relieved. Ideally, corticosteroids should begin as soon as possible after the injury.
Surgery may be necessary. This may include surgery to remove fluid or tissue that presses on the spinal cord (decompression laminectomy). Surgery may be needed to remove bone fragments, disc fragments, or foreign objects or to stabilize fractured vertebrae (by fusion of the bones or insertion of hardware).
Bedrest may be needed to allow the bones of the spine, which bears most of the weight of the body, to heal.
Traction / Immobilization
Anatomic realignment is important. Spinal traction may reduce dislocation and/or may be used to immobilize the spine. The skull may be immobilized with tongs (metal braces placed in the skull and attached to traction weights or to a harness on the body).
Physical Therapy / Rehabilitation
Extensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation interventions are often required after the acute injury has healed. Rehabilitation assists the person in coping with disability that results from spinal cord trauma.