My friend dove in a pool this summer breaking her c4 & c5 now is a quadaplegic or however yu spell it she had a fusion done on her neck. Her injury is incomplete i have no clue what incomplete means she is now sitting up on her own for periods of time and holding her left arm up for about 8 - 10 seconds please help me understand her injury will she recover?
I am so sorry about your friend. That is a too common way people become paralyzed - diving into water of unknown depth.
The terms incomplete and complete are used with damage to the spinal cord. Incomplete is the term used to describe partial damage to the spinal cord. With an incomplete lesion some motor and sensory function remains although some function is usually lost permamently.
People with an incomplete injury may have feeling, but little or no movement. Others may have movement and little or no feeling. Incomplete spinal injuries differ from one person to another because the amount of damage to each person’s nerves is different.
The effects of an incomplete injury depend upon the area of the spinal cord (front, back, side, etc) affected. The part of the cord damaged depends on the forces involved in the injury.
Anterior Cord Syndrome: is when the damage is towards the front of the spinal cord, leaving a person with the loss or impaired ability to sense pain, temperature and touch sensations below their level of injury. Pressure and joint sensation may be preserved. It is possible for some people with this injury to later recover some movement.
Central Cord Syndrome: is when the damage is in the centre of the spinal cord. This typically results in the loss of function in the arms, but some leg movement may be preserved. There may also be some control over the bowel and bladder preserved. It is possible for some recovery from this type of injury, usually starting in the legs, gradually progressing upwards.
Posterior Cord Syndrome: is when the damage is towards the back of the spinal cord. This type of injury may leave the person with good muscle power, pain and temperature sensation, however they may experience difficulty in coordinating movement of their limbs.
Brown-Séquard syndrome: is when damage is towards one side of the spinal cord. This results in impaired or loss of movement to the injured side, but pain and temperature sensation may be preserved. The opposite side of injury will have normal movement, but pain and temperature sensation will be impaired or lost.
Because your friend's injury is high in the spine in the cervical, unforately less function is preserved - since it all starts from the top and works down. The true extent of incomplete injuries isn't fully known until 6-8 weeks post injury. The spinal cord normally goes into what is called spinal shock after it has been damaged. Swelling and fluid develop. This can also mask damage on MRI or CT scans. It is not uncommon for someone who is completely paralysed at the time of injury to get a partial or very near full recovery from their injuries after spinal shock has subsided. Basically the further out from injury the possibility of less recovery exists.
I hope this information has helped you. I also understand the most important thing is to get to a good center/hospital that has expertise in spinal recovery and rehab, that ups the chances of a better prognosis. There is a Spinal Injury Network out there you should be able to find it easily and more answers and advice from people who are dealing with paralysis.
I'm sorry to hear about your friend's injury, but glad she has a good friend like you. Neckpatient gave you great information about incomplete injuries, so I would just like to add some personal experience if you don't mind. I had an incomplete spinal cord injury at C5-6 a long time ago, when I was working as an auto mechanic. It took me 8 months to learn how to sit up, and even longer to do things like feed myself and brush my teeth. Like Neckpatient said, good rehab is really important, and only time will tell how good or bad your friend's recovery will be. I hope she recovers everything.
I was lucky. Though my rehab hospital wasn't the best (they kept telling me what I couldn't do), I went to a local college that had a wheelchair sports team, and I started trying all these crazy sports about 11 months after my injury. I played basketball (I'm terrible), sledge hockey and swimming (too cold) and then found wheelchair racing. The other athletes taught me how to use what was left of my body, and I got stronger. Eventually, I ended up travelling the world as a member of the US Disabled Sports Team. I learned how to walk a little bit with crutches, and became an attorney.
It took me about 3 years and a lot of help from my friends to get into shape, so please include your friend in everything you can. Most of my friends are able bodied, and most of them forget I can't walk, even though they took care of me during those early, difficult years. I will pray that your friend makes a full recovery. In the meantime, you might try to find a local wheelchair sports association, once her doctors say it's okay. They work you harder than the physical therapists, but the payoff is worth it.
Hi. I'm also sorry to hear about your friend. How hard for her and for u too probably. These other posts/replies sound as if they know more than I do about this but my first thought is that perhaps it could be too soon to tell for sure the permanent extent of her damage. Its still soon so maybe she's a fighter and I have complete faith that fighters gain back more and heal better than those who just kinda "give up". I pray that I'd be a fighter but anyone who has never walked in someone elses shoes does not know. I pray for the both of you. Marla