Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injury is a traumatic experience, resulting in compression, contusion or incision of the spinal cord. The injury may be a complete spinal cord injury, resulting in total paralysis below the injured part of the spine. Spinal cord injuries damage the patients’ physical and mental health, and can affect their functioning and independence.

Rehabilitation

The spinal cord injury rehabilitation program focuses on comprehensive patient and family education about the condition, providing the patient with the assistive tools they need, and managing pain, inflammation and fatigue. Patients who have experienced spinal cord injury may benefit from locomotor training. This is a form of activity-based therapy to help the patient recover lower body mobility and weight-bearing capability. Locomotor training is usually done on a robot-assisted body-weight supporting treadmill. The patient is also offered a range of assistive technologies to help them function more independently.

Functional Electric Stimulation

Functional Electric Stimulation Therapy is used to help a patient recover a functional range of motion after paralysis. The therapy is performed by injecting the patient with low-intensity electrical impulses, used to stimulate specific muscles in the arms, legs or other areas of the body. The electrical impulse causes contraction of the muscle and helps improve muscle control and increase muscle bulk. The muscles and the sequence of movements to be stimulated and strengthened are carefully chosen depending on the patient and their regular activities.

Electrical stimulation is delivered by electrodes. These may be surgically implanted, placed under the skin (percutaneous), or placed on the skin with sticky pads. Functional electrical stimulation therapy is an on-going process, and learning to perform the movement sequences again could take a few weeks to several months.

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