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Penguin
02-22-2010, 07:37 PM
Hey, guys. My MC's sister was in a terrible accident two years ago when she was six. I've been doing a lot of research on spinal cord injuries and I really want the story to sound very authentic. This is what I'm going to do. Can anyone tell me if it's realistic? Thanks.

The sister, Rose, ran into the street at age six and got hit by a car. She went into surgery immedietly. She had the injury in the lower spine, so only her legs are paralyzed. Now it's two years later. She still can't walk (has no movement in any of her legs) and her mother takes her from doctor to doctor, enrolls her in many programs, but they aren't seeing any results. She has physical therapy and occupational thearpy. Rose, who used to be a lively girl, is now mostly quiet, doesn't like to go out much, would rather watch TV or play board games with her older sister (the MC). Would a child in this situation act this way? And is is it possible for her to never regain movement in her legs? Does this sound realistic?
Thanks in advance.

ColoradoGuy
02-22-2010, 08:00 PM
Injuries such as you describe are nearly always permanent. The initial surgery you describe generally doesn't do anything to fix the spinal cord, where the nerves are -- it simply stabilizes the bones of the spinal column (generally by fusing several of them together). Most injuries of that sort also make the child lose bowel and bladder function.

I've cared for many children like this over the years. I don't think you can generalize about expected personality changes. Children do adapt well to injuries like this, but individuals are individuals. Do whatever your plot requires. The personality changes you describe are certainly within the range of possibilities.

maggi90w1
02-22-2010, 11:03 PM
And is is it possible for her to never regain movement in her legs? Does this sound realistic?
If there isn't any progress two years later, then it's pretty impossible that she will ever regain movement. This kind of paralysis (severed nerves) is almost always permanent.

Penguin
02-25-2010, 07:15 PM
Thank you for your help!

JulieHowe
02-25-2010, 10:44 PM
Hey, guys. My MC's sister was in a terrible accident two years ago when she was six. I've been doing a lot of research on spinal cord injuries and I really want the story to sound very authentic. This is what I'm going to do. Can anyone tell me if it's realistic? Thanks.

The sister, Rose, ran into the street at age six and got hit by a car. She went into surgery immedietly. She had the injury in the lower spine, so only her legs are paralyzed. Now it's two years later. She still can't walk (has no movement in any of her legs) and her mother takes her from doctor to doctor, enrolls her in many programs, but they aren't seeing any results. She has physical therapy and occupational thearpy. Rose, who used to be a lively girl, is now mostly quiet, doesn't like to go out much, would rather watch TV or play board games with her older sister (the MC). Would a child in this situation act this way? And is is it possible for her to never regain movement in her legs? Does this sound realistic?
Thanks in advance.

Every child is different. My favorite little guy had a feeding tube in his stomach and an IV line in his arm, which was attached to a machine on wheels. One day, I came into work, and he was outside in the backyard. While pulling his IV machine along, he was riding a Big Wheel, and at the same time, he was towing another kid behind him in a red wagon with a jumprope tied to the handle. To this day I couldn't tell you how he managed to do this, but he did.

New program rules had to be made up because of him - no climbing trees or jumping from high places. I once caught him stacking riding toys on top of a picnic table, and if he'd been given the chance, he would have jumped over the pile of Big Wheels and red wagons like he was Evil Knievel. If he'd been my child, I would have let him do it.

mtrenteseau
02-26-2010, 09:18 AM
Spinal cord injuries vary greatly. The little girl in the story may be able to put on leg braces and get around on crutches, even with no ability to move her legs. If the spinal cord is damaged but not severed, she may have feeling in her legs and occasional muscle spasms.

I can't speak to the emotional part, but I'm sure that the age at which the injury occurred plays a part in how well the person adapts. Someone injured as a teenager or young adult, particularly if they were doing something risky and stupid, might feel bitter toward life, forcing him to sit and watch other people do the things he used to. Someone injured as an infant would never have that kind of adjustment to make.

My thoughts based on your character's description is that she's either afraid to go outside because she's traumatized, or she feels that she's been punished for being reckless.

debirlfan
02-26-2010, 10:32 AM
Keep in mind that the child's attitude is likely to be influenced by the mother's thinking. You say that 2 years later, mom is still going doctor to doctor "miracle shopping" - that says to me that perhaps the mother feels guilty about the child's injury (she may feel she wasn't watching her daughter closely enough). If so, the mother may now be over protective, and the daughter may pick up on that and be afraid to try anything.

Stijn Hommes
02-26-2010, 12:56 PM
Keep in mind that the child's attitude is likely to be influenced by the mother's thinking. You say that 2 years later, mom is still going doctor to doctor "miracle shopping" - that says to me that perhaps the mother feels guilty about the child's injury (she may feel she wasn't watching her daughter closely enough). If so, the mother may now be over protective, and the daughter may pick up on that and be afraid to try anything. Or she could be sick of mom's overprotectiveness and rebel. Both are possible given the background you sketched and either would fit fine.

frimble3
02-27-2010, 09:24 AM
That was what I thought when I first read the original post. She's eight years old, she's got physical therapy, occupational therapy, and an unending series of doctor's visits and tests and 'programs', and no control over any of it. She may not understand the medical stuff, but if she doesn't think there's any improvement, she may be getting sick of the whole thing.
Especially if her mother is constantly hopeful and enthusiastic. Too much "Gotta stay positive, cheer up, tomorrow is another day, put on a happy face, gotta have hope" can sour a person.

Penguin
02-28-2010, 11:24 PM
Thanks to all of you. The girl I think (for now at least) has given up on "fun" because she can't do the activities she's done before the accident (balle, running, swimming, jumping, etc). I think she's more depressed than sick and tired of the doctor visits. She's given up on hoping that she'll ever walk again. As the story moves on, she will embrace the injury and begin to enjoy life once again.
Thanks again.

GeorgeK
03-02-2010, 06:12 AM
With spinal crush injuries (typical for car vs pedestrian) it's rare that there is a complete transection of the spinal cord. Usually there are a few nerves here and there that don't work in conjunction with the damaged ones. As others have stated, it's common to have twitching, not usually of whole limbs but parts of muscles here and there which can be uncomfortable despite perhaps no skin sensation. Bowel and bladder hygiene are very important and problems associated with them are common causes of death among paraplegics. They are typically in default retention 1-2 years post injury requiring clean intermittent catheterization usually 4 or more times a day and medications to reduce bladder pressure, as well as a digital stimulation regimen to induce bowel movements. The acute phase of the injuries often is incontinence. That said, with incomplete cord injuries, everyone is a little different.