It’s a no-brainer; if you’re injured, get medical help right away. A new study has shown that how soon you enter rehabilitation may have a drastic impact on how much your condition improves in cases of spinal cord injury.
Kurt Herzer, a fellow in the Medical Scientist Training Program at John Hopkins School of Medicine was part of a study conducting research on how patients reacted to early rehabilitation from a data pool of almost 4,000 people in the United States. “This study shows, following a spinal cord injury, patients might benefit from entering inpatient rehabilitation at the earliest, clinically appropriate opportunity.” The study observed patients who had suffered a spinal cord injury between 2000 and 2014 and started rehabilitation within 19 days of the initial injury.
Spinal trauma is one of the most debilitating forms of injury and often leads to permanent disability such as paraplegia or quadriplegia. The purpose of rehabilitation is to limit and reduce secondary complications and to restore functionality to the patient. According to the study, patients who entered rehabilitation early had better physical functionality within the following year than the patients who had delayed their rehabilitation. With nearly 12,000 reported cases of spinal cord trauma reported every year, it is important for medical providers to inform their patients of the risks of delaying their rehabilitation.
There are two phases of spinal cord trauma and recovery, the acute phase, and the recovery and rehabilitation phase. Immediate medical attention will be most important during the acute phase to try to treat the initial injury. However, according to the study, rehabilitation should be initiated as soon as the acute phase is over in order to minimize the amount of impairment over the long term.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, please ask your doctor how soon you will be able to start rehabilitation.