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Thread: Recent Spinal Infarction – what more can we be doing?

  1. #1

    Unhappy Recent Spinal Infarction – what more can we be doing?

    On January 18th, my mom, an active 58 year old woman suddenly collapsed with no warning. She had little sensation in both legs and was unable to move them other than to wiggle a couple of toes. We rushed her to our local hospital who took CAT scans and they ruled out any physical issues – they did see a spot and thought either some sort of blockage or cancer. Their MRI was not available, so she was transported to a bigger hospital – they started giving her steroids, which I later found out was the right thing to do. At the other hospital (after what I felt was too long of a wait) she got her MRI and there was nothing. At this point the paralysis was slowly subsiding, but the pain came back with even more loss. She now had complete paralysis with no feeling. After two neurologist talked about the situation, they assumed it was a virus or a spinal infarction. One doctor explained that if it was the latter, the nerves are dead and there is nothing more to do. Not believing that, we pressed for more treatment and by 5am the next morning, she was given more steroids and a drug to increase her blood pressure to possibly deliver more blood to the area. This was after more CAT scans to make sure her aorta was not dissected – which they thought might have been cutting the blood supply to the spine (she had a valve and aorta replacement 13 years ago). A couple of days later, another MRI was taken and the blockage was now clear – “massive damage” between T10-T12. On January 24th, she was moved out to St. Charles rehab hospital in Port Jefferson NY – which was explained to be the best choice in the area. So far she had regained some feeling on her thighs – it went away – but now coming back slowly. It seems sensation is coming back bit by bit but there is still no motion. She has three hours of rehab 6 days a week on an aggressive schedule – they started with wheelchair exercises (which had been upsetting to her) and now have moved to core strengthening. Yesterday, they had her standing in a frame and today she is scheduled to use the bike with electric stimulation. It appears to me that what they are doing seems to be correct – is there anything else that would be helpful? Are there any other therapies that might be beneficial a few weeks after the infarction? Any merit in looking at clinical trials or stem cell therapies over seas? It seems the condition is rare and not that many people know about it. I know everyone says each patient responds differently, but is the sensation returning possibly a precursor to motor function or are the two unrelated? Thank you for your prayers and any feedback you may have.

  2. #2
    Welcome to our forums. While spontaneous spinal cord infarction is not common, you will find a number of others who experienced this both on this forum and on our Non-Traumatic SCI forum.

    Right now there are not effective therapies to fix the death of the nerve cells involved in an infarction. It is common to get some sensory return in a cord infarction. Some eventually get some motor return too, but it will take up to 2 years to see if any of this occurs at all. There is nothing that can be done to hurry this up unfortunately. It would be better to use financial resources for an aggressive rehab program (see below) not rather than paying for unproven therapies overseas.

    It sounds like she is at a good rehab center, and she and you need to take advantage of every opportunity for training, exercise and education they should provide to prepare her to return home and resume her life, even if that means doing it in a wheelchair. She may also benefit from an aggressive post-acute rehab exercise program. Most of these require private payment and are not appropriate as a replacement for an acute rehab program. You can get more information about these programs under our Exercise forum.

    (KLD)

  3. #3
    sent you a PM

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