cord injury: What do you need to know?
In the past, farmers and palm wine
tapers, falling off trees, were the people who sustained spinal injuries. Nowadays,
road traffic accidents account for the majority. Many patients have been
involved in accidents where the vehicle somersaults several times. The injuries
occur often at the time of the accident or subsequently during extrication or
transfer to hospital. Neck injuries resulting in damage to the spinal cord due
mostly to road traffic accidents are common problems seen in emergency
departments in Abuja. Reports suggest same increasing occurrence in other parts
of the country. There are currently no firm statistics on the scale of the
problem. Most patients present with partial or complete paralysis of the arms
or legs or both. This is because the spinal cord carries all the nerves that
supply movement and sensation to the rest of the body. If the cord is severely
damaged, the paralysis may be permanent. This includes loss of sexual function
and loss of the ability to urinate or pass stool normally. The worst case scenario is the patients with complete dislocation and often complete damage to the spinal cord. Recovery is often poor with permanent paralysis.