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Thread: Help -- My mother suffered a c6-c7 incomplete injury a week ago

  1. #1

    Help -- My mother suffered a c6-c7 incomplete injury a week ago

    My mom suffered a c6-c7 incomplete spinal cord injury (contusion) 9 days ago -- on July 24. She just began in-patient rehab and I need some hopeful stories of recovery.

    My mom has feeling everywhere although she can't tell that the pin prick is sharp from about her breast bone down. She can move her arms (her biceps are especially strong) and her wrists. She has a bit of movement in her feet, but it comes and goes. Very limited movement in her hands although we have seen some improvement in her thumbs. She has sensation but no B&B control...

    Since the injury is only 9 days old, we are hopeful she will have a good recovery, but we don't really know what is possible for her. Does anyone have stories to share of the recoveries of folks with similar injuries? IS it possible that she will walk? Use her fingers?

    My mom is a fighter -- will work like crazy to get better.....

    Thanks in advance. I can already tell this is a terrific site.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Florence, Kentucky
    I had a c5-c6 incomplete about six years ago. I was pretty much of a vegetable imediately after the injury. Could move my hands and toes, but that was about all. After about six weeks in rehab, I was able to walk with the aid of a walker, and within a couple of months could walk unaided. I can't say that I am back to where I was before my injury as I do have quite a bit of central nerve pain and bladder issues. Everyone is different, so your mother might do much better then I did.

    Best of luck.

  3. #3
    There is certainly a good chance that she will get significantly more return with this much return this early (I assume the injury was initially worse??). Unfortunately it is way to early to tell how much she will get back, or how quickly. It will be at least 2 years until you know that.

    Where is she getting rehab? Are they expert in SCI specifically? It will be critical for her to continue in a good outpatient program to maximize any further return, as it is unlikely they will allow her to stay (from insurance pressure) until she gets back much more. The average rehab inpatient stay for an injury like this is less than 5 weeks. Continuing in an intensive outpatient program will allow her to get the maximum function from any return she gets.

    They should be getting her immediately onto a good bowel and bladder management program so that she does not have accidents when she come home, even if she does not get return right away. This is often one of the last things to come back.

    Did she get methylprednisilone when first injured?
    Is she in some type of neck brace that may hold her back in functional gains?
    How was she injured?

    Please keep coming back, and get your mom on-line here too!


  4. #4
    My mother suffered a C5-C6 incomplete injury 20 months ago. Her injuries were so severe the doctors didnt' think she would survive. she spent over a month in ICU with other medical problems before she even started rehab. The rehab doctors -- some of the best in the country -- were telling me she would have very little function. I recently read a note the social worker wrote on her chart: "pt family does not appreciate the magnitude of her injury" based on a conversation she had with me where I was refusing to agree to put mom in a nursing home. She had a lot less function a month after the accident than your mother has already.

    She's been home over a year and a half now and is able to do far more than the doctors ever expected. She's still limited in what she can do, but she continues to make progress. She's able to get out and live a very active life. She's getting B&B control, which the doctors said would be impossible. Like your mom, she's a fighter.

    you've got a lot of tough days ahead of you, but it will get better. (My theme song has become "ooh child, things are gonna get easier". they do.) your life will change. but you will adust and learn to

    One of the hardest things to deal with in the days after the injury is not knowing what to expect. there is no "book" in terms of what to expect in recovery. Everyone is different. There may be little or no progress initially and then a lot of progress later. The doctors and therapists will try to give you their best guess about what to expect, but there is no way for them to be sure. So listen to what they say and take it into account, but remember that it is not gospel.

    It is definitely possible that she will get greater use of her fingers. My mother doesn't have complete use of her fingers, but she can pick up her pills, drink from a cup, turn pages on a book, etc. And like I mentioned above, your mother already seems to be ahead of her. As for whether she will walk, that's part of what this board is all about, looking for a cure. but even short of a cure, there is what is known as "walking quads", which is a lot more common than I realized. and remember that recovery from SCI is a gradual process over a long time. As I said to my mother countless times, there may come a day when we say this is as good as it will get, but that's a lont way away. So you have a lot of reason to be optimistic and hopeful.

    What is your mother's name Rachel? I'll remember her in my prayers.

  5. #5

    My son has a C7 injury. He continues, 3 1/2 years later, to improve. His health is good and he lives independently. Early on is tough and scary but things do improve. If your Mom is a fighter, then she is in her element. There are many rounds to go...

    "Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence." Lin Yutang

  6. #6
    Good work finding us, we can help answer your questions. Some guesswork here: I think the fact she can move her feet is good. How long did it take her to do it? I could move 1 toe the day after surgery, can walk 1/4 of a mile with forearm crutches 6 years later. Well, usually I can, other health issues have me down just now. I'm c5-6 incomplete, 40 yrs old at injury.

    It's way too early to speculate but not too early to get to work. She needs to be in a top-level sci rehab. When she has downtime she should concentrate on trying to move everything. Things she can move she needs to repeat so they'll get stronger. I suspect she's doing this already, that's why her foot movement is unreliable, she's fatigued the muscles. She has good insticts, I always like hearing that. It's not too early for her to try folding clothes...tee shirts, towels, hand towels. I got most finger function back that way.

    Any questions, any time, feel free to ask.

    All people new to our world need to read the article written by Dr. young linked below.

    Acute Spinal Cord Injury
    14 April 2003
    Wise Young, Ph.D., M.D

    Brief intro:
    I receive many calls and emails from people and families with spinal cord injury. It is better today compared to 1977 when I took care of my first spinal-injured patient and had to tell the family that there was nothing that we could do. Here is what I say to families now.

    Focus on solvable problems. Make sure that methylprednisolone is given within 8 hours after injury (this drug may improve recovery by 20%). Find the best and most experienced surgeon. If the spinal cord is compressed, make sure that it is decompressed as soon as possible. Prevent complications by insisting on aggressive care of lung, bladder, and skin. Start rehabilitation as soon as possible.

    Recovery is the rule and not the exception in spinal cord injury. Most people recover some function after spinal cord injury. On average, people with “complete” injuries recover 8% of the function they had lost, compared to 21% if they received methylprednisolone. People with “incomplete” injuries recover 59% of lost function, compared to 75% if they received methylprednisolone. Recovery takes a long time and work. Many people recover function for 2 or more years after spinal cord injury.

    Do not give up hope. Most scientists believe that it is not a matter if but a matter of when therapies will be available to restore function in spinal cord injury. Clinical trials are testing therapies to restore function after injury. Weigh potential risks and benefits carefully before participating in such trials. Remember that the therapies will get better over time.

    Other portions of ths must-read article cover:










  7. #7
    Member bberr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Suffered sci (c3/4 incomplete injury) for 6 years ago. I had almost no function the first 24 hours accept some movement in left foot. Was very lucky and regained almost everything. Except temperaturefeeling in right foot.
    Have some problems with backpain but i manage this without any pils. Had fast recovery and after 14 days i was standing without assistanse. Walked out of hospital 1 month later without assistanse. I am almost the "same" now but exercise a lot. Walking, swimming, going skiing wintertime, diving and streching is a natural part of my life. Have no limits regard to walking and when i feel for this i can go about 10 km without any problem. I do a lot of daily activities home, but i have to rest if i am standing for a long while.

  8. #8

    Thanks so much

    Thanks to all of you for giving me some hope. I knew there had to be some success stories out there. You are all inspirations.

    To answer your questions -- Yes, she was given the steroid drip for 48 hours after the injury. (Although they didn't get her on it for about 4 hours post injury -- she was life flighted from a rural location.) She stayed in ICU for a week, then spent two days in an intermediate unit.

    She was admitted to Baylor's Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas 2 days ago. They have a spinal cord injury rehab program that is, as we were told, one of the top 20 in the US. (Our other choice was TIRR in Houston, but we did not have family or the same level of support there and the programs seemed comparable.) We hope this is a good choice. She seems to be receiving excellent care. However, if you have other suggestions -- let us know. My mom has very good health insurance.

    She has already shown improvement. Immediately after the accident, she was unable to move anything. She is already a 5 (on the ASIA scale) for her biceps, a 3 for her her wrists and mostly 1s and 2s everywhere else. All of her muscles are firing, just some aren't connecting. Lots of weakness.

    So grateful to all of you who responded. I am sure I will be posting more as we go along. I am starting to wonder about adaptive equipment, out-patient treatment, etc....So many questions.....

    Thanks again.

  9. #9
    Baylor is one of the best. I spent 5 weeks in ICU there and 3 more weeks in the hospital. I didn't do my rehab at Baylor, though, because all of my family is in Ohio, so they flew me back here to be closer to them.

    I am a C6/C7, coming up on 3 years post injury (in September). I have astounded the doctors with my recovery -- nothing I do surprises them anymore. When I started inpatient rehab, I think I was ASIA B, but I walked out of the rehab facility 3 months later using a walker. Since then I have continued to improve and my dr says the only thing keeping me from being ASIA E is the pinprick test.

  10. #10
    It sounds like you have a lot of reasons for hope. those scores are already much better than my mother had one month out from her accident. I have heard good things about Baylor, and having family support nearby is invaluable. Part of her therapy will include SCI education that will help answer your questions about adaptive equipment, etc. the therapists and social workers at rehab should be a good resource for you and give you a place to start.

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