The construction industry is dangerous, as there are numerous hazards that workers face daily. One serious injury that can occur from falls is a spinal cord injury, which often leaves one paralyzed from the waist, or the neck, down.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most spinal cord injuries are emergency situations, and acute medical attention minimizes further damage. Because spinal cord damage is irreversible, an injured person needs to learn to manage the long-term effects.
Symptoms of spinal cord injury
The signs and symptoms of an SCI vary depending on the location of the damage and the severity of the injury. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Altered, or loss of, sensation
- Inability to move areas below the injury
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflexes
- Stinging or pain
The United Spinal Association discusses the short- and long-term rehabilitation a spinal cord injury victim goes through. After emergency care stabilizes the situation, the patient begins rehabilitation in the hospital. Patients learn exercises so they can perform new activities such as moving in bed, maneuvering a wheelchair and transferring the body. Patients may learn how to do pressure releases for spastic muscles, check for bed sores and identify the signs of an underlying infection.
Once patients are out of the hospital, they must learn how to manage their paralysis in daily situations. People with spinal injuries can still enjoy a relatively normal life, so learning how to work, travel, participate in sports and even drive is part of living with the injury.
One effect of this injury is emotional. Depression is a common symptom, and patients can learn how to cope in various ways, such as keeping a journal, setting realistic goals, attending therapy and joining support groups.