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Has anyone survived a severe sci and pneumonia?

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    Has anyone survived a severe sci and pneumonia?

    My brother had a motor bike wreck two weeks ago and injured his spine at c3-c5(I think). He can only shrug his sholders and is on a high vent and oxygen level. Also, blood pressure medicine cause he cannot regulate his blood pressure or body temp. He now has pneumonia and it doesn't seem to be getting any better along with a lot of swelling in his hands and feet. Before the pneumonia set in he was coming off the medicine and down on the vent and oxygen. Today they called me out to ask me about him being on a vent and long term care, if that is what he would want and also, about a dnr. Are they expecting the worse or just preparing for the worse in case it happens? Does this mean they have lost all hope? From the moment he got there they have given negative responses to everything. Like we will tell you the worse and that way you won't be disappointed if he doesn't improve. Should we prepare for the worst or continue with hope? Does anyone know of anyone coming back from such a severe sci and pneumonia?

    On another note... today I was excercising his hands and he said he could feel it. Could this be real or just him thinking he is feeling it?

    Welcome. So sorry about your brother.

    The accident that broke my C1-C2 also collapsed my lung and caused aspiration pneumonia, which was in some ways the worst part of the ICU experience. It's not uncommon to get pneumonia with cervical injuries, especially those requiring ventilators. Treatable for sure, but they need to initiate aggressive respiratory therapy asap. Is your brother on antibiotics? Getting regular chest physio? Ventolin?

    Until he's breathing ok it will be much harder to assess the other damage. Do not let them bully you into any decisions. Insist on him getting the acute care he needs, the rest will come later.


      Hi tammylyn, Sorry for what you family is going through.
      My husband had a high level SCI in 2008 and had several lung complications in the beginning, but not pneumonia.
      The blood pressure problems can be common and he even had a pacemaker put in a couple weeks after his injury.
      It is hard to tell what type of message they are giving you.
      Is there a good social worker on staff that can help?
      We had a wonderful one who had been working in ICU many years and would get the doctors to sit down and have short meetings with us to clarify things.
      Good luck and please keep us posted.


        tammy, it's pretty standard for hospitals to ask about living wills, DNR orders, power of attorney, etc. They try to prepare for the worst, and know the patient and family's wishes. Obviously he's hurt very badly and they cannot predict what will happen.

        On the other hand, if he says he can feel your touch he certainly is feeling it. Hope for the best but do be prepared for the worst. Am prayin' for you all.


          I am sorry about your brother's injury. First thing is that he needs to be in a Spinal Cord Injury center, not a regular hospital if that is where he is at the moment. It is too early for anyone to be guessing that he would need a vent for life. He needs the best care, and that is found at places like Craig Hospital (CO) or The Shepard Center in Atlanta. There are a few others too, and hopefully the nurse on this site will give you more info. It is a good sign if he can feel touch, and perhaps an indicator of better days ahead. I have a friend named Rob who survived very severe pnuemonia and today is doing quite well, breathing on his own, and raising his family.


            I had pneumonia in the hospital. I was in a coma at the time so I don't remember it. I had the same movement after 2 weeks. He will most likely improve.


              My father had a much lower injury (T11/12), but he had many other injuries initially and was intubated (trached) for many weeks. He got a pneumonia. Pretty much EVERYONE who is intubated in the ICU gets a pneumonia, actually, if you are there more then 1-2 weeks! As long as he is on antibiotics he should recover from the pneumonia. I am also assuming he is relatively young and was in good health before. This will help him too. However, any vent weaning will be slowed quite a bit by the pneumonia.

              I guess what I'm trying to say is don't make any decisions based on the new pneumonia. It's not a deal breaker. No big decisions should be made now - except the best possible place to eventually move him to for acute rehab that has excellent expertise in vents. I will let others on this board give those recommendations. Start talking to the social worker etc.. to get this process going in the right direction.

              Of course it is GREAT is he can feel when you touch his hands. Nerves to the hands are lower then C3-C5 so it shows he still has some intact sensation below his injury.

              As they say it is great if you can prepare for the worst and always hope for the best. He will improve, and no doctor can say now how much. So keep encouraging him and make sure the nurses are turning him from side to side RELIGIOUSLY every 2 hours, and checking daily for pressure sores (especially butt/sacral area) as these can develop quickly in the ICU.


                I had pneumonia, too, while in ICU. Praying he improves greatly. C5/C6


                  Where is your brother? It is critical that he be moved to a major SCI center ASAP. Does he have insurance? Are you there with him or remote?

                  He should be making decisions about his care, not his family unless he is unconscious or has a bad TBI as well. He should be able to communicate with eye blinks or a spelling board.

                  Don't be bullied into withdrawing care. Insist that he be moved to best possible SCI Center.

                  The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                    Welcome! Sarah also had pneumonia during her hospital stay. Since then, not so much. She seems to have a harder time getting over a cold but other than that, she has been fairly healthy - lung related. She is a C6/C7 but her lungs were definetely an issue shortly after her injury.

                    Sarah still has blood pressure issues on occasion. Like others have stated....very common.

                    Good luck to you all and I hope the best for your brother!

                    Teresa (Sarah's Mom)


                      I too am a C5/6 incomplete quad that had pneumonia. I dove into our pool from the patio roof. The impact with the water snapped my neck. I sucked water all the way to the bottom. Had to be trached upon arrival at hospital and remained that way for all the time I was in ICU. When moved to Rehab, that was the first to go. I breathe just fine even though I only use the upper lobes. Good Luck, mark