A spinal cord injury is a traumatic, life-changing experience that changes a person’s life in real and significant ways. The area of the spinal cord that is damaged will dictate the area of the body which is affected. The severity of the damage is related to the severity of the injury and whether the spinal cord injury is complete or incomplete. You can read more on that here. In this article, we will discuss damage to the lumbar area of the spine and how that will affect the spinal cord injured person.
Where is the lumbar spine?
The lumbar region of the spine is the lowest section of the spinal cord and includes the five vertebrae (L1-L5) below the thoracic region, above the sacral region. This area carries the most weight of all the sections of the spine.
What are the common causes of lumbar spinal cord damage?
Some common examples are:
- Car or motorbike accidents
- Birth defects
- Diseases such as cancer
What to expect following a lumbar spinal cord Injury
Injuries to this area usually result in some loss of function in the hips and legs but don’t affect the upper body. Everyone will be affected differently when it comes to severity and effect. Damage to the lumbar area may result in full paralysis of the legs or muscle weakness. They may need to use a wheelchair or walk with braces, depending on their remaining muscle strength. Unfortunately, injuries to this area often affect the person’s ability to control their bowels and bladder.
Lumbar spinal cord injury recovery
After any necessary surgeries and a period of rest time have passed since the trauma, the recovery process can begin. The level of recovery and type of rehabilitation greatly depends on the severity of the injury. Thankfully, this type of spinal cord injury is rarely life-threatening and rehabilitation to regain independence is highly achievable.
Treatment options can include:
- Surgery – to relieve pressure around the spinal cord itself.
- Rehabilitation – physical and occupational therapy.
- Activity-based therapy (ABT) – is a form of rehabilitation to help strengthen muscles and improve overall health.
- Palliative care – devices and pain relief to help manage the person’s injury.
- Experimental treatments – such as stem cell injections, functional electrical stimulation (FES), and brain-computer interfaces.
It is absolutely possible to achieve a good level of independence following a lumbar spinal cord injury. But the damage from spinal cord injuries can extend beyond the physical body. Depression following a life-changing injury like this is common. Sometimes people won’t be able to continue with a job or hobbies they had had before and feel a real sense of grief. This is when a support system is essential. Lean on family and friends. Many people find it particularly useful to find support from other spinal cord injury survivors.
Eximius live-in care offers a range of care and support packages ranging from simple companionship to complex care needs. If you or your loved one would benefit from support or companionship at home, please get in touch for an informal chat to see how we can help.
- Spinal injury care for young people – how live-in care can improve the lives of younger spinal injury patients