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Cervical Spinal Cord Injury – Recovery Timeline

May 3, 2021


When a patient has a traumatic spinal cord injury, they're typically brought by emergency medical services to a trauma center. And if they have an unstable cervical spine fracture, they're usually expedited to surgery or the spinal cord is decompressed and the spinal fracture is fixed. Once this has taken place, the patient is usually stabilized of their other injuries and then eventually transferred to a rehabilitation facility. When the patient with a spinal cord injury arrives at the rehabilitation facility, the receiving physicians, typically physical medicine rehabilitation doctors, are hopeful that they will regain some function over the ensuing months. Patient may convert from an Asia B to an Asia C, an Asia C to an Asia D, make some degree of spontaneous recovery over time. And the job there is to teach the patient how to work with the disabilities they have, how to operate a wheelchair, how to get about at home and how to use the remaining function they have in a useful way. After nine months to a year has passed, the patient usually has realized the ultimate amount of recovery that they're going to achieve. At this point if the injury is complete, they may have gained a level. That is, a C5 injury may, by that time, become a C6 injury. A C6 injury may become a C7 injury, but if the injury is complete, typically they don't convert to an incomplete. Or a completely paralyzed patient does not end up walking over time.

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