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What is an acute spinal cord injury?

The medical term "acute" refers to a condition that occurs suddenly. An acute spinal cord injury in Virginia, then, is one that occurs suddenly, often due to an accident or trauma. You should note that "acute" is not necessarily the same thing as "temporary." Depending on the type of injury you sustain, it may improve with time. However, it is also entirely possible that the damage an acute spinal cord injury causes may be permanent.

If you suspect that someone has sustained an acute spinal cord injury, get medical help right away. It is a medical emergency, and any amateur attempts at first aid may do further damage. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, symptoms of acute spinal cord injury include the following: 

  • Breathing problems
  • Paralysis or lack of voluntary muscle movement
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of feeling in the chest or extremities
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function

Symptoms of acute spinal cord injury may be more severe if it occurs at a higher level, such as in the region of the neck. 

Diagnosis of acute spinal cord injury usually involves one or more imaging studies, which may include CT, MRI or X-ray. It may also include blood tests. It is important to determine whether the injury is complete or incomplete. In an incomplete injury, the damage is not sufficient to prevent all neural signals from transmitting, so there is still some degree of movement or feeling below the level of injury. In a complete injury, there is no feeling or movement below the level of injury. In some cases, though not always, the prognosis for recovery is better with an incomplete spinal cord injury. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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