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Complete: A complete injury causes total paralysis below the level of the injury. It affects both sides of the body. A complete injury may cause paralysis of all four limbs or the lower half of the body.
Incomplete: After an incomplete injury, some function remains on one or both sides of the body. The body and brain can still communicate along certain pathways.
Depending on the location of the injury, spinal cord trauma symptoms include varying degrees of:
Current treatment focuses on preventing further injury. Bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and fluid accumulation can cause additional damage over days or weeks. Medications can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Spinal trauma surgery is usually required to repair broken or dislocated vertebrae and relieve compression of the spinal cord. Spinal fusion surgery involves placing bone or bone-like material between vertebrae and securing the vertebrae with titanium screws, rods, and/or plates to hold the bones together until they heal. With penetrating injuries like gunshot wounds, foreign objects may need to be removed surgically
Nurses that specialize in the care of patients with spinal cord injury work closely with the medical team to promote good blood circulation to the spinal cord and reduce the chances of other problems that can occur following injury.