A workplace injury or an auto accident that damages your spinal cord is likely to be a life-changing event. Spinal cord injuries tend to permanently impair the motor functions of a person in some way. While some injury victims manage to regain lost body function, the prospects for any amount of recovery often depend on the nature of the injury.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons explains that spinal cord injuries take two primary forms, an incomplete spinal cord injury or a complete injury. Each of these two SCIs will affect the degree to which you may recover from a spinal cord injury.
Recovering from an incomplete SCI
Usually, patients show some improvement after suffering an incomplete SCI. The degree to which you might recover will depend on the severity of your injury. Many people do not fully recover all of their motor functions. Still, some patients regain enough motor function to perform key activities like walking and being able to control bladder and bowel movements.
Recovering from a complete SCI
An accident that results in a complete SCI generally has greater consequences. You would probably never recover motor function below the area where your spine had sustained injury. So if your spine above your legs suffered damage, you will likely be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. While some patients with a complete SCI manage some level of improvement, any recovery of function tends to happen in the first few days following the injury.
Rehabilitation after an SCI
The outlook of an SCI patient is to attain as much independence as possible given the injury. If you suffer a severe loss of function, you will probably need people to help dress and bathe you for the rest of your life. However, if you can use your arms and hands, you might go through physical therapy to help you perform as many tasks as possible even though you cannot walk. Emotional therapy may also help you rebuild your confidence as you seek to function in life with your injury.