"When something bad happens you have three choices: you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you."
- Dr Seuss
How many times a month do you see a new 'awareness day' popping up, whether it be 'Game of Thrones Awareness Day' or a day recognising some food item. But today, 18th May 2018, we recognise those that suffer spinal cord injuries, showing our support for the trauma they suffer and the strength that they show.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)?
The spinal cord is made up of a thick bundle of nerves, which carry messages from the brain to the rest of the body. These help to move the body, feel and control vital bodily functions such as breathing. However when the spinal cord is damaged, those messages of communication between the brain and the rest of the body are disrupted. This results in a loss of movement and sentation from below the level of injury.
eLearning For You Development Lead - Thalia Galloway, has a breadth of knowledge into SCI so we took this opportunity to ask her a few questions to find out why it is important to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries.
How does Spinal Cord Injury affect the body?
Thalia was able to give great insight into how the body is affected by a Spinal Cord Injury.
"Thank you for your time Thalia! So how does an SCI affect the body? What happens after the trauma?"
"The spinal cord is extremely complex, but essentially it is a long cylinder of nerves divided up into different segments. Now, depending on which part of the spinal cord is damaged, different after-effects are likely to appear. Therefore, some patients might see immobility, difficulty breathing or even loss of bowel and bladder function. Essentially, if you are living with an SCI you will need to learn how to live with the change. Patients will receive rehabilitation care and support from other corresponding groups in the initial stages, to ensure they are able to return to normality in the long run. Some living with an SCI will find they need to learn to walk again, or learn how to catheterise themselves. Simple things in life become quite difficult, so it may be that a Personal Assistant is employed to give a helping hand."
"Will an SCI affect someone for life - what is the likelihood of making a full recovery?"
"Unfortunately an SCI will affect someone for the rest of their life, and they will not make a full recovery. There is currently no cure for this therefore patients will need to re-learn how to live their lives. With the provisions we have in place today, we have seen and will continue to see great outcomes of people learning to enjoy life with a spinal cord injury."
Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital (RBH) and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital (RBH) are a part of the Affinity Care Group, a company built with the aim of improving standards of care and welfare in care homes and the community. However, they are also our sister company! RBH are dedicated to providing support, education and personal community plans to ensure the patient's needs are managed effectively and to the highest standard.
The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital boasts a state-of-the-art spinal cord injury rehabilitation facility, providing patients with a unique programme designed specifically for their needs. This may involve: improving the quality of movement to maximise recovery and independence; top up or development of skill following spinal cord injury; or maintaining movements, joint range and posture in some progressive conditions, for example, degenerative disc disease. There are a range of treatment techniques that the patient may receive.
Thalia's knowledge of SCI meant we could grab her opinion on the advances made in the treatment for spinal cord injuries.
"How would you describe the evolution of treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries?"
"If you look back 20 years, those who were involved in a serious car accident may walk away claiming to be unharmed. However, 48 hours later they might find themselves in excruciating pain due to a spinal cord injury that took a while to show itself. Nowadays, if you are involved in a serious car accident you will be put on a stretcher and taken to hospital. Why? The first 48 hours are crucial for anyone with a suspected spinal cord injury due to the fact the body immediately protects the spine, therefore any form of injury to the cord may be disguised."
"That makes it so difficult to identify! However, we have seen great advances in rehabilitation equipment - what do you think of these advances for those living with a SCI?"
"With advances in technology, the benefits seen on the development of treatment and equipment for the rehabilitation of those living with an SCI is incredible! First of all, we now have a greater understanding of the spinal cord than we've ever had before, meaning we have been able to implement a suspected spinal injury pathway. Secondly, the advances into the development of physiotherapy equipment has been tenfold since the beginning of the 21st century. Today we have access to equipment such as bionic suits, which help individuals with complete lower body paralysis to stand up and walk with a natural, free weight bearing gait. These advances are helping to change the lives of individuals living with an SCI."
Spinal Cord Injuries Awareness Day allows us to raise the profile of this injury and by doing this, we are able to find quicker and better quality methods of helping to treat those with an SCI. So join us today and tell people why it's important we raise the profile of spinal cord injuries, just one comment matters to helping those living with a spinal cord injury!