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valerielynn
07-01-2014, 04:57 AM
I'm doing a little research on spinal cord injuries/back injuries from a car accident for a novel that I'm writing. This is a new idea so it's in the beginning stages.

My character was in a car accident that paralyzed him. The accident happened 6 months ago, so the story begins 6 months after his accident. I'm trying to decide if he should be paralyzed from the waist down or the neck down. Which of these injuries would be realistic to recover from? That will help me decide which injury would best suite my character. Another question that I have is regarding regaining sensation in his legs, etc. When someone is paralyzed as a result of a car accident, when sensation returns does it return all at once or just gradually over time? When sensation does return does that mean that they can walk immediately or would they need to relearn it gradually through physical therapy? About how long does it take someone to recover fully from a spinal cord injury?

sheadakota
07-01-2014, 05:13 AM
I'm confused. Paralyzed is permanent. There is no return of sensation. There are other injuries of the back that can result in decreased function and sensation, that can return partially over time, but not paralysis.

ETA: to clarify, to me an,injury that causes paralysis indicates a disection of the spinal cord. There is no coming back from that movement or sensation wise. You can have injuries that cause swelling and once the swelling resolves sensation and some movement can return, but not completely and almost never if the sensation is lost from the neck down.

valerielynn
07-01-2014, 05:22 AM
I guess paralyzed is the wrong word. Maybe what I should have said is that he suffered some kind of a spinal cord/back injury as a result of a car accident. He is in a wheelchair but I want him to recover from his injury.

Diver
07-01-2014, 05:34 AM
I know this is semantics, but I’ve heard doctors use the term paralysis when referring to spinal cord injury resulting in lack of function, even if the patient can recover from it (as in a patient coming to the ER “paralytic”, and having a partial/somewhat full recovery afterwards.)

Disclaimer: I’m not trained in medical sciences, but I'm married to an MD.

valerielynn
07-01-2014, 05:41 AM
That still doesn't answer my questions. I understand that there is lots of recovery and physical therapy time with any spinal cord injury. That is okay and that is what I am going for.

melindamusil
07-01-2014, 07:07 AM
That still doesn't answer my questions. I understand that there is lots of recovery and physical therapy time with any spinal cord injury. That is okay and that is what I am going for.

The problem is, there is no one answer. Recovery from a spinal cord injury that does NOT actually disect the cord could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few decades.

In general - and this is a huge generalization - the lower the injury is, the faster the recovery. But like I said, huge generalization. It's still possible to have higher injuries with short recoveries, or lower injuries with long recoveries. What does your story need?

Christabelle
07-01-2014, 09:38 AM
What does your story need to have happen, Valerielynn? You've got a wide range of outcomes between a cervical injury (neck) and a low thoracic or lumbar injury (approximately waist).

First of all, the spinal cord can get pinched or bruised rather than severed or dissected, which could lead to initial paralysis with a better chance of recovery. Your character could have a complete or incomplete injury (research that), and with an incomplete injury some sensation and/or movement would be preserved.

As far as which injury would be realistic to recover from, do you want your character to have a complete recovery -- 100 percent, no lasting effects? At 6 months, has he had any recovery of sensation or function? Is recovery walking with crutches or a walker? Or able to walk short distances unaided? Or do you want him back to being completely able-bodied?

With a cervical injury, there are many degrees of paralysis to the arms to consider as well as lower body. Don't just assume that he's unable to move anything below his neck (unless you intend for him to have a super high injury). You can have a cervical SCI and still be able to use your arms except for lacking finger dexterity, etc.

Generally, doctors say that the first 18 months to 2 years after a spinal cord injury is the time when any recovery will happen if it's going to, but I've read accounts of people having recovery much later. However, there's a lot to be considered for recovery, and it might not be complete.

Let us know what you need for your story and it'll be easier to figure out the situation to make it happen.

MDSchafer
07-01-2014, 04:32 PM
Let me introduce you to a wealth of information that is the Shepherd Center. Go to http://www.myshepherdconnection.org/ and start reading, if you have any specific questions after let me know.

melindamusil
07-01-2014, 07:43 PM
One more thing - you asked if he could walk instantly or would need physical therapy. Barring a huge miracle, he WILL need PT. Even if his spine was not injured, if he was bedridden for more than a day or two, he's going to have some degree of muscle atrophy. He'll need a physical therapist to help him rebuild the muscles, at the very least.

valerielynn
07-02-2014, 02:36 AM
What does your story need to have happen, Valerielynn? You've got a wide range of outcomes between a cervical injury (neck) and a low thoracic or lumbar injury (approximately waist).

First of all, the spinal cord can get pinched or bruised rather than severed or dissected, which could lead to initial paralysis with a better chance of recovery. Your character could have a complete or incomplete injury (research that), and with an incomplete injury some sensation and/or movement would be preserved.

As far as which injury would be realistic to recover from, do you want your character to have a complete recovery -- 100 percent, no lasting effects? At 6 months, has he had any recovery of sensation or function? Is recovery walking with crutches or a walker? Or able to walk short distances unaided? Or do you want him back to being completely able-bodied?

With a cervical injury, there are many degrees of paralysis to the arms to consider as well as lower body. Don't just assume that he's unable to move anything below his neck (unless you intend for him to have a super high injury). You can have a cervical SCI and still be able to use your arms except for lacking finger dexterity, etc.

Generally, doctors say that the first 18 months to 2 years after a spinal cord injury is the time when any recovery will happen if it's going to, but I've read accounts of people having recovery much later. However, there's a lot to be considered for recovery, and it might not be complete.

Let us know what you need for your story and it'll be easier to figure out the situation to make it happen.

That's a good question! At the beginning of the story I want my character to be somewhat limited but as the story progresses I want his condition to be getting better. He doesn't have to be 100% because I don't want that for him (for story related purposes). At the end of my story though he ends up in a very dangerous situation that could potentially re-injure him and put him right back at square one.

Christabelle
07-03-2014, 04:57 AM
Have you checked out the link for Shepherd Center that MD posted? If not, look at that and read about Craig Hospital in Colorado. Those places are a wealth of knowledge about SCI. It'll be easier to help if you have specific questions. I'm assuming based on your follow up replies that your MC has an incomplete low level injury?

valerielynn
07-03-2014, 05:50 AM
Have you checked out the link for Shepherd Center that MD posted? If not, look at that and read about Craig Hospital in Colorado. Those places are a wealth of knowledge about SCI. It'll be easier to help if you have specific questions. I'm assuming based on your follow up replies that your MC has an incomplete low level injury?

Not yet! I seem to have way too many irons in the fire right now. But I have an open window tonight so I will be sure to check it out tonight. :)