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What happens when you have a spinal cord injury?

A serious spinal cord injury can change a person's life in a second. While it depends on the scope and severity of the damage, major injuries can affect numerous areas of a person's health, from mobility to breathing.

Because these issues can become quite severe, it is important to understand what a significant spinal cord injury entails. This guide goes over a few of the possible complications.

Bowel and bladder problems

Brain signals between the bowel and bladder often get disrupted when there is damage to the spinal cord. This can lead to a lack of control or an increased risk of kidney infections and bladder stones. When bowel and bladder dysfunction arise, the person with the injury may need therapeutic assistance to relearn basic function.

Muscle and bone dysfunction

There are two types of muscle tone dysfunction that accompany spinal cord injuries. Some people lack sufficient muscle tone, which means their muscles can feel soft and weak. On the other hand, some people experience increased spasticity. That means muscles will feel unnaturally tight or rigid. Both issues can modify a person's function. Issues with muscle dysfunction can also reduce bone density, which may result in conditions like osteoporosis.

Circulatory issues

Circulatory problems can also result after significant spinal cord damage. If there is an issue with swelling in the lower limbs, the person's risk of blood clots can also increase. Some people experience lower than normal blood pressure upon rising, which can lead to fainting and lightheadedness. When there are issues with sensation, autonomic dysreflexia can result, which causes blood pressure to increase dangerously due to painful sensations the person cannot feel.

While you cannot prevent all injuries from occurring, there are a few ways to mitigate your risk. Because many serious injuries result from car accidents, make sure you drive responsibly and always wear your seatbelt, whether you are a driver or passenger.

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