Raising awareness of spinal cord injuries – SCI Awareness Day 2024

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Raising awareness of spinal cord injuries – SCI Awareness Day 2024

This Friday, 17 May, marks the annual Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day which aims to spread awareness about spinal cord injury, particularly the challenges faced by individuals on a daily basis.

Due to my role as a specialist solicitor in this area, I believe greater awareness of spinal cord injury is vital, not just for the public at large, but also for medical professionals who have a significant role to play in their prevention.

Spinal cord injuries have a devastating impact on the lives of those affected and do not just occur due to accidents. They are also caused by failures to diagnose specific conditions, delays in investigation or treatment or failure to acknowledge key red flag symptoms. It is also possible for the spinal cord to be damaged during surgery if mistakes are made, or through a failure to investigate and diagnose post-operative symptoms, such as bleeding, which can cause compression of the spinal cord and irreversible damage if not treated in time.

Where there are delays in diagnosis, investigation and treatment or surgical causes for the injury, specialist advice is required to consider whether alternative treatment could have avoided the nerve damage. 

Suffering a spinal cord injury is a life changing event. From my own experience in representing spinal injury patients, struggling with conditions such as cauda equina syndrome, I know there can be a wide range of difficult to manage issues that can make day-to-day life very challenging. I frequently see clients who not only suffer from ongoing spinal pain but a combination of other problems such as neuropathic symptoms of numbness, burning and pins and needles in the lower limbs which can affect comfort, mobility and cause fatigue. Other complex symptoms can occur such as loss of bladder and bowel control and sexual sensation.

These symptoms can also have a significant impact on mental health with many clients suffering from low mood, tearfulness, depression and anxiety.

Organisations such as the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and the Cauda Equina Champions Charity offer invaluable support and guidance to those who have suffered spinal injuries. They offer support in terms of physical and mental health as well as advice on finding the right support network as well as advocating for those who have suffered a spinal cord injury generally.

Having the right support network is vital and the SIA provide support to those who have recently suffered a spinal cord injury throughout life with many of the support coordinators and volunteers living with a spinal cord injury themselves. The SIA can also signpost patients to trusted partners, such as JMW, to investigate and advise in terms of any concerning aspects of treatment provided.

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