Experience in rehabilitation of incomplete spinal cord injury

Mostly caused by car accidents, falls, assaults or sports injuries, a spinal cord injury (SCI) involves damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal, resulting in sequelae such as loss of sensation, muscle strength, and bowel, liver and sexual functions.

A spinal cord injury impairs the flow of incoming and outgoing messages between the brain and the rest of the body, affecting basic functions affects basic bodily functions below the site of functions of the body located below the site of the damage.

The Ministry of Health adds that spinal cord injury affects the physical, psychological and social well-being of the patient, which extends to the family environment that must assume the patient's care.


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Types of spinal cord injury

Mayo Clinic explains that the lowest part of the spinal cord that remains intact after an injury is known as the neurological level and, depending on its severity, it is classified into complete and incomplete spinal cord injury. complete and incomplete.

While both have similar causes and symptoms, there are some differences that have implications for recovery options:

  • Complete: is when all the sensation y all the capacity to control movement are lost below the spinal cord injury. The higher up the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more severe the symptoms tend to be.
  • Incomplete: is when some motor or sensory activity is maintained motor or sensory activity below the affected area. This means that a person with incomplete spinal cord injury may still retain some function and sensation below the injury site.

According to the functionality lost in arms and legs, the spinal cord injury can produce:

  • Tetraplegiais the loss or decrease sensibility and/or voluntary mobility of the upper and lower extremities upper and lower extremities and of the whole trunk, due to a spinal cord injury at theas a result of a spinal cord injury at the cervical level. This means that the arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs are affected.
  • Paraplegiamanifested by a lack of sensation lack of sensibility and/or total or partial total or partial paralysis of the lower extremities and of the sublesional part of the trunk, generated by a sublesional, generated by a damage at the thoracic and lumbar level. It affects all or part of the trunk, legs and pelvic organs.

Incomplete spinal cord injury

While a complete spinal cord injury completely severs the spinal cord at the site of injury, an incomplete spinal cord injury is a incomplete spinal cord injury partially severs the spinal cord, thus allowing some signals between the brain and the rest of the body to remain.

This means that a patient with incomplete spinal cord injury may still retain some function and sensation. retain some function and sensation underneath the site of damage. Thus, people generally tend to have a better overall prognosis better overall prognosis and may recover more quickly from their injuries.

In this case, it may be difficult to predict exactly how limiting the sequelae will be, given the different types of incomplete spinal cord injuries. 

  • Cervical spinal cord injury .. The cervical spine is made up of the spinal cord and nerves located in the neck vertebrae (C1-C8). Injuries in this area tend to be the most most limiting and potentially life-threatening. Symptoms include paralysis, weakness and/or loss of sensation in all four extremities.
  • Thoracic spinal cord injury .. It is located near the middle of the spine, below the cervical spine and above the lumbar spine (vertebrae T1-T12). These lesions generally have a better prognosis than those of the cervical spinal cord. They can cause paralysis of the legs, but usually leave survivors with control over their arms.
  • Lumbar spinal cord injury .. It is located at the L1 and L2 vertebrae, where the spinal cord ends. These injuries tend to cause symptoms such as weakness in the hips and legs or problems with bladder and bowel control.
  • Sacral spinal cord injury .. Although it contains no actual segments of the spinal cord, the area between the S1-S5 vertebrae houses nerves that help with the function of the hips, groin, thighs and buttocks. Damage is relatively uncommon, but can affect bowel and bladder function, cause back and leg pain, and reduce sensation.

TrainFES treatment for spinal cord injury

There is a There is a greater likelihood of recovery when the spinal cord injury is incomplete and, therefore, the paralysis is paralysis is partial. The prognosis is also favorable when movement and sensation begin to recover the first week after the injury. However, TrainFES has had successful treatments successful treatments with many patients more than a year after the spinal cord injury.

TrainFES has a multidisciplinary team made up of physiatrists, kinesiologists and occupational therapists, among others, who evaluate the treatment indicated for each person according to the spinal cord injury he/she presents, with a view to achieving a global rehabilitation.

The TrainFES rehabilitation program TrainFESspecialized for spinal cord injury focuses on two main objectives:

  • Obtain metabolic benefitsAvoid atrophy and secondary diseases, improving quality of life and life expectancy.
  • Regain or increase voluntary control and functionality.This is possible only in incomplete lesions.

Among the technological innovations is functional electrostimulation (FES), which provides new alternatives to the new alternatives to rehabilitate motor paralysis due to spinal cord injury through electrical pulses that activate the muscles, in conjunction with exercises guided by the medical team.

Examples of recovery with TrainFES

The electrostimulation technique and the daily training made possible by TrainFES methodology and technology make it possible for the patient to carry out his training with consistency, either in person or at home, in order to achieve the maximum recovery potential. maximum recovery potential..

"I can walk."

Cristián Cuevas underwent surgery for a problem near his spine that left him with a spinal cord injury. spinal cord injury that took away the mobility and sensitivity of both legs, leaving him prostrate.

In 2019, the rehabilitation process began at TrainFESand month by month was consolidating achievements, until he got back on his feet. When the year was ending, he climbed all the steps of the Bahai Temple in Santiago by himself.

"Two years ago I couldn't feel or move my legs; today I can walk."Cristián, whose spinal cord injury forced him to freeze his university studies when he was a freshman, emphasizes.

Cristián continues to train every day to improve his gait. His effort and perseverance led him to graduate with a degree in computer science and programming, which led him to join the TrainFES team, where he works to develop technology for the future of neurorehabilitation.

"I'm happy."

In April 2019, while returning home, Alejandra was hit by a bus that did not respect the red light. Although an emergency operation saved her life, a spinal cord injury in her lower back left her unable to walk.

In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, he remotely began his journey with TrainFESin which he achieved major breakthroughs such as standing up and achieving therapeutic walking with assistance and functional electrostimulation.

Once the quarantine was over, Alejandra began to attend in person at TrainFES Center and has already managed to take her first steps without support. "At first I was bedridden, but thanks to TrainFES I can now walk with a donkey. Thanks to TrainFES I can now walk with a donkey. I am very happyI'm happy," she says.

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