After relearning to walk, spinal cord patients at risk of falls
The good news is, a spinal injury does not always mean a lifetime of paralysis. An article by a physical therapist published in the Toronto Star explains that nearly 70 percent of spinal cord injuries are incomplete. In an incomplete injury, the spinal cord is not completely severed. This often means that the brain and body retains at least a limited connection, and the victim can regain some sensation and movement, with current day rehabilitation methods.
However, once a person with an incomplete spinal cord injury gets back on his or her feet, the next concern is staying upright. The author says that each year, three-fourths of people with incomplete injuries suffer a fall. Though a fall can occur anywhere, most of them happen at home.
Interestingly, other conditions that affect balance and coordination, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s, do not seem to put people at as great of a risk of a fall. For those recovering from a spinal injury, it seems more likely that your ability to move and feel remain compromised, so that walking on a slippery or uneven surface is more likely to trigger a fall than before the injury.
The author says she and her clinic are studying ways to simulate “falls” for clients, so that they can practice walking in more challenging situations and avoid such falls in real life. Hopefully, incorporating this into rehabilitation will reduce the number of secondary injuries.