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SCI slow recovery 13 months after accident

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  • SCI slow recovery 13 months after accident

    13 months ago I was injured in a logging accident (T10 complete). Post operative report said my spinal cord was completred transedected and shredded. The dura was shredded to the point that some sort of glue was used to put it back together.

    I believe I have had some motor function return in my lower abs and back. I don't how to explain whats happening and it is extremely slow.

    Six months after the accident I went into cycles of pain. One day great pain, burning in all lower extemities. Next day no pain just tingling. Yesterday the pain was great, but today everything was fine and I have good balance?

    My question is this--has there ever been anyone who has had a complete transection of the spinal cord to walk again?


  • #2
    Hi em, if you have function and sensation below T10 then I would think that your cord isn't completely transected. You need to get a new mri and see what your spinal cord looks like, now. Good luck, and you might post in the CARE forum, where there are knowledgeable spinal cord nurses to answer questions.
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    • #3

      rdf is right. The fact that you are getting function back means that you probably were not transected. The reason why I say probably is because I still am not absolutely certain that the human spinal cord does not engage in some degree of spontaneous regeneration. A carefully done MRI should show some white matter still present at your injury site.

      Recovery takes a long time. In most people that I have known, they have taken 2 years to recover and some continue to recover for many years. For example, one of my oldest friends is Kent Waldrep. I have known him since 1979. He was C5 when I met him, able to lift his arms (deltoids) and bend at the elbows (biceps) but his triceps were weak and he had very weak hands. Over the past 22 years, he has progressively recovered. He has two children, feeds himself, writes, has good truncal control, and has some bladder control. He did receive enzyme therapies in Russia during the late 1970's. Of course, he needs a lot more recovery ahead of him.

      Likewise, Christopher Reeve was a true C1/2 injury when I first met him. He has recovered a remarkable amount of sensation, to the point that he is able to feel touch on his hands and legs. Much of this sensory recovery occurred a year or more after injury. His motor function is still limited and he cannot move his hands but he is able to go off the respirator for a few hours and I understand that he has some diaphragm activity.

      I have known many people with severe incomplete injuries, i.e. almost no function below the injury level for several months, who have recovered to the point of walking. Most of these had cervical spinal cord injuries. In my experience, such recoveries are more rare in people with thoracic spinal cord. I don't really know why this is the case.

      I have always thought that if we knew how some people recovered after spinal cord injury, we would have the "cure". Most clinicians dismiss such recovery. The dogma is that this is "root" recovery (if it is just 1-2 levels) or due to surviving axons that have been demyelinated or are otherwise dysfunctional. I believe that this dogma will be overturned in the coming years, as was the concept that acute spinal cord injury could not be treated and the spinal cord cannot be regenerated.

      The recent studies showing that spinal circuits can turn off if they are not used for long periods of time has been particularly worrisome. The good news is that intensive "forced-use" training paradigms can restore function even after a decade or more of non-use. On the other hand, perhaps it would be better to prevent the circuits from turning off altogether.



      • #4

        EM-I am a T12 "complete," at the time of my injury I had no muscle in my abdominals below the bellybutton. It's been about 16 months and I have complete abs, and back muscles, hip flexors, and can flex the IT band in my quadricep. Other people who I met in Rehab also had similar return and even greater, even in people with injuries greater than mine. I think that Dr. Young is correct in that if you can find a dedicated P.T. they'll get what little return you have and maximize it. I know of one person who after 4 years started P.T. with a gung-ho ex-marine P.T. who required her to excersize up to 5 hours a day, crawl around on the floor, etc. and now she walks with knee braces and a cane. She had very little return up to the point that she started P.T. Anything is possible


        • #5
          gp and em

          gp, thanks for sharing your experiences. I too have known many people who have recovered and often years after injury. The German group who did the treadmill ambulation program were reporting that up to 40% of people who have been paralyzed many years after spinal cord injury can recover locomotor ability with intensive training.

          em, I realized that I really did not answer your question, whether there has ever been a person with "complete" transection of the spinal cord who has recovered function. I have been following both the published and unpublished literature on this subject for over twenty years. Unfortunately, most of the studies do not document transection of the spinal cord. Transection (which in my mind means physical severance of the spinal cord) is very rare. The only place in the world that I know which has large series of transected spinal cords is at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil where as many as 50 people are admitted to hospital with "bullet in canal" syndrome, where the bullet ended in the spinal canal and destroyed the spinal cord. Even in such cases, the spinal cord may not be transected. However, they see a number of cases where there transection has been verified on surgery. To date, I don't think that they have seen any recovery in such patients.



          • #6
            slow recovery after 13 months

            Thanks to all that answered. I was told it was not a complete transection at first and then later my doctor said if was completely severed and shredded. I have stainless rods--I have been told I can't have a MRI because of that.

            Again thanks...