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Thread: Spinal Stroke

  1. #1

    Spinal Stroke

    I have a dear friend who is in the hospital and is paralyzed from mid chest down. She is having severe pain in her back even though she's paralyzed. Today the team of Dr.'s told her that she has had 4 strokes in her spine. I/we have never heard of such a thing. She is 44 years old and has been told she will never walk again. This is devastating news. What is a spinal stroke and is there really nothing that can be done?

  2. #2
    I have moved your post to the appropriate (New SCI) forum.

    A stroke is a lay term for any event that causes a blockage or loss of blood & oxygen supply to a body part. Most often the term is used to talk about brain strokes where a clot, thrombus or plaque blocks blood supply to part of the brain, causing damage to brain tissue. A spinal stroke is very similar. Both the brain and spinal cord are very sensitive to any loss of oxygen supply and damage can occur very quickly. Spinal strokes are more often caused by problems such as AV malformations of the blood vessels supplying the cord, or can result from surgery on the aorta that interrupts the blood supply to the cord. Do you know if she has been diagnosed with an AVM?

    Spinal strokes can initially cause a lot of back pain, but this generally improves with time, and should be treated with appropriate medications for acute pain (narcotics, etc.).

    How long ago did this occur? Where is she now? Was she previously in good health? Does she have good insurance?

    It will be critical that she be moved as soon as stable to a specialty spinal cord injury rehabilitation center. Don't let her go to just any local general rehab center. A specialty center will provide so much better quality of care and rehab! We can help you find resources to share with her family to make this choice easier, and often there is a need to fight with insurances or even physicians or case managers about this decision. She may need some help with advocacy for this.

    It is entirely too early for anyone to say what her prognosis is for any return. It is often common to get quite a bit of return from a spinal stroke, although how much no one can say, and it will take at least 24 months to know this. It is important to make plans for what impairment she has now (worst case) but also to maintain hope for improvement.

    Please ask questions...we will try to provide answers when possible.


  3. #3
    Hello Sczamper. I am just getting on to Care Cure now and I am reading about your friend. I am a physical therapist that has spent 30 years working, studying, and teaching about Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury. I am very familiar with spinal stroke and can provide the basic definition for you. A stroke is when there is loss of blood supply to a region of the body that results in tissue death and subsequent functional loss. The loss of blood supply can be from an occlusion, which is typically a clot that has obstructed the vessel and blocked the flow of blood from that point onward. The second reason for loss of blood supply is from an actual hemorrhage or leak of the vessel; therefore the blood is lost into the surrounding tissue and does not arrive at the designated destination. The tissue that loses its blood supply is starved for the oxygen and nutrients and subsequently dies. With enough tissue death the function that this tissue was responsible for stops.
    I firmly believe and have experienced over and over again, that ALL cells in the body regenerate based on the internal environment and the external demand. For paralysis due to lack of blood flow, internal structural work to regain the vessel integrity and flow, as well as stimulating the regeneration of neuronal pathways, is essential. I encourage you to investigate the Connecticut School of Integrative Manual Therapy for structural solutions for paralysis.
    Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. Good luck with your research.
    Susan Leger, DS, MS, PT, NDTc, IMTc

  4. #4
    Since the OP has not been on the site since 11/1/08 I doubt they will be back to read your response.


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