Preventing Secondary Health Issues After Spinal Trauma in Ohio


Spinal cord injuries can lead to devastating, lifelong disabilities. In addition to the primary damage caused by the initial spinal trauma, secondary health complications can arise that further reduce the person’s quality of life. Preventing these secondary issues is crucial for spinal cord injury patients in Ohio. This article will discuss common secondary health problems after spinal trauma and ways to minimize their impact.

Respiratory Complications

One of the most dangerous secondary effects of spinal cord injuries is respiratory compromise. Damage to the spinal cord can impair the respiratory muscles, reducing lung capacity. Patients may not be able to cough effectively, leading to mucus buildup and frequent respiratory infections.

To prevent respiratory issues, spinal cord injury patients should receive regular pulmonary function tests to monitor lung capacity. Cough assistance techniques and devices can help clear secretions. Rapid treatment of any respiratory infections is essential. Flu and pneumonia vaccines should be kept up to date. Oxygen therapy may be required in some cases.

Cardiovascular Disease

Spinal cord injury patients have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The loss of mobility leads to physical deconditioning, muscle atrophy, and weight gain, which increases the chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Autonomic dysreflexia after injuries above T6 can also stress the heart.

Routine cardiovascular monitoring is important after spinal trauma. Blood pressure and cholesterol should be checked regularly. Diet and exercise modifications can help control weight and improve cardiovascular fitness. Blood thinners may be prescribed to reduce clotting risks.

Urinary Tract Infections

Many spinal cord injury patients use catheters to empty the bladder. This puts them at high risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can lead to sepsis if untreated. UTIs account for 40% of rehospitalizations for spinal cord injury patients.

Preventing UTIs starts with proper catheter care including frequent changing and sterile insertion technique. Cranberry supplements may help reduce bacteria. Drinking adequate fluids flushes bacteria from the urinary tract. At the first sign of a UTI (fever, foul urine smell, incontinence), patients should seek prompt medical care.

Pressure Ulcers

Limited mobility after spinal trauma increases vulnerability to pressure ulcers (bedsores). Constant pressure restricts blood flow, causing skin breakdown and open wounds. Pressure ulcers are very common in paraplegics and quadriplegics.

To prevent pressure ulcers, routinely change positions to relieve pressure. Use pillows and specialty mattresses to protect bony areas. Keep skin clean and dry to avoid skin breakdown. Inspect skin daily for any redness or sores. Promptly treat any wounds with debridement, dressings, and pressure relief.

Bone Loss

The lack of weight-bearing activity after paralysis can trigger rapid bone loss below the level of injury. This osteoporosis leads to a high risk of fractures during transfers or physical therapy. Bone loss occurs most severely in the first year post-injury.

Early rehabilitation with weight-bearing activity helps stimulate bones. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is important. Bisphosphonates or other anti-resorptive medications may be prescribed to slow bone loss. DEXA scans can track bone mineral density. Use caution during all movement to avoid fractures.

Pain Management

Spinal trauma patients often suffer from neuropathic pain, spasms, stiffness, and headaches arising from nerve damage. This neuropathic pain can be severe and challenging to treat.

A combination of medications – such as anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and antispasmodics – is usually required to manage neuropathic pain. Non-drug treatments like acupuncture, massage, and electrical nerve stimulation may also provide relief. Counseling should be offered to help patients cope with chronic pain.

Preventing Secondary Complications

Spinal cord injury patients face an elevated risk of many secondary health issues that can seriously impact their quality of life. Preventing these complications requires comprehensive, proactive medical care. By monitoring patients closely and minimizing risks through diet, exercise, hygiene, and prompt treatment, many secondary issues can be avoided or managed effectively. This allows patients to focus on their rehabilitation and regain the highest possible level of function after spinal trauma.

Common Causes of Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries can result from traumatic events like motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports collisions, and acts of violence.

No matter what the initial cause, spinal cord injuries require prompt emergency care to minimize permanent neurological deficits. Quick diagnosis and treatment provides the best chance at recovery.

For spinal injuries caused by negligence, it’s important to talk to a personal injury lawyer from Monge & Associates. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Ohio, Florida, and Kansas.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.