Children with spinal cord injuries are a relatively rare occurrence. According to a 2004 study by the Model Spinal Cord Injury Care Systems, only 4% of those living with spinal cord injuries are under the age of 15. Youth with spinal cord injuries, however, have a unique set of health concerns that need to be addressed, and these health concerns vary as well depending on if the child has entered adolescence. If your child has a spinal cord injury, being on top of these health concerns is a must. Read on to discover five of the most important health concerns in children with paralysis.
5) Pressure Sores
Just like anyone with a spinal cord injury, this skin of children with spinal cord injuries needs to be carefully observed too. Since they are growing, wheelchair seating needs to be replaced regularly. If it is not done in a proper amount of time, this can lead to pressure sores. Their skin is also thinner, making it more prone to breakdown. Make sure you take your child to a seating specialist at least once a year to ensure their seating is still the right size.
For children with high cervical injuries, they are prone to respiratory issues like pneumonia from paralyzed chest muscles, as well due to their immobility. Common colds can be dangerous for children with quadriplegia especially. You should also be in touch with a doctor with experience with respiratory issues and spinal cord injuries in the pediatric population to ensure your child gets the best care possible.
For children who sustain a spinal cord injury before adolescence, they are in a high-risk category for scoliosis because they are still growing and not positioned correctly in the chair because of paralysis. You can get bracing for your child that will help prevent scoliosis, as well as a specialized backrest that can also help prevent curvatures. Not only is scoliosis painful, but it can also be dangerous to your child's health including endangering the skin and compromising their respiratory system. It is very important to be on top of this, as over 90% of children with spinal cord injuries will get scoliosis.
Identity struggles, guilt and having their lives completely changed can cause a myriad of mental health issues in children with SCI, with many experiencing both anxiety and depression. It is important to talk with your child about their feelings as they grow up with their injury. Counseling and anti-depressants are used with success in many children with SCI. Also, getting your child involved in adaptive sports and/or summer camps for kids with SCI can help in a big way. Being around kids who are just like them can help immensely with socialization.
1) Bladder Issues
Many children with SCI, unfortunately, have several bladder-related health issues from having a neurogenic bladder, such as UTI’s to chronic incontinence. Taking your child to a pediatric urologist is key in treating your child. The Mitroffanoff procedure, or a suprapubic catheter, is often done in children with SCI to help with catheterization. Also, since the back-up of urine in the bladder is common in children with spinal cord injuries, they are at risk of kidney infection and kidney stones.
Children living with paralysis may have special health concerns, but they can still live long full and happy lives. By taking the proper measures and ensuring your child's health is taking care of it in every area as they grow into a teen and into an adult, they will be able to live healthful, happy lives in spite of their injury.
Written by Vincent DolanA the Director of Public Affairs at SpinalCord.com Vincent has had the opportunity to speak with thousands of individuals (and families) during every step of the recovery process. Vincent has combined his legal and marketing expertise to create the single largest resource for those impacted by a spinal cord or other catastrophic injury. While gathering and sharing these resources Vincent also spends time answering the SpinalCord.com hotline which allows him to better understand what families are going through. Vincent is actively involved in supporting various non profits within the SCI community, and is always open to helping in whatever way he can. Vincent also works with our sponsors Swope, Rodante P.A. to ensure families have every opportunity to obtain the resources which improve the quality of life for individuals after a spinal cord injury.
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