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Spinal Cord Injuries
A: After a spinal cord injury, most medical professionals will say you have a 2-year window to see any possible recovery after your injury. This is due to spinal shock https://www.spinalcord.com/blog/spinal-shock-what-it-is-and-how-you-treat-it?fbclid=IwAR2bs2CyID2I1kb33Bv7zoHjGU9mEdsMwNSAygEVNEUXJJ29NK499zG7OPg), a condition that occurs whenever the spinal cord is injured. Many people say their spinal shock lasts one year, and then their recovery starts. And even though we see people beat the two-year prognosis all the time, doctors still give this window to newly injured individuals to not give false hope.
We’re here to let you know that a two-year window is just a number. People with spinal cord injuries see recovery in a wide variety of time frames, with many seeing recovery several years after their injury and doctors have no way to explain it. This is called spontaneous recovery. If you have an incomplete spinal cord injury, you have a higher chance of experiencing this. Nerve recovery can go on for several years, and doctors are still trying to figure out exactly how it occurs.
This means you should never count out recovery automatically after a spinal cord two years after your injury. You never know when any recovery could occur. This is especially true if you’re taking part in activity-based therapy, which can help encourage more recovery. This is done at gyms like Project Walk or Neuro Fit Recovery, which practice this form of exercise. Activity-based therapy can wake up paralyzed nerves through repetitive exercise, gait training, vibration therapy, and FES therapy.
Ask any large group of people with spinal cord injuries about the recovery they experience and you'll get a wide swath of answers. This proves just how different spinal cord injury recovery can be. Some people will flatline around one year post-injury and see no more recovery. For others, they can be several years post-injury and still experience recovery, even if it slows down some.
Many people who’ve had recovery years after their injury report that repetition and constant exercise make a big difference in the recovery they experience. Don't stop putting in the hard work, as you never know if you might be the injury that has more recovery. The damage to the spinal cord itself doesn’t always tell the whole story.
For example, someone with just a bruised spinal cord may experience complete injury symptoms, and others with a fully torn spinal cord injury may still feel below their level of injury. This is why so much research is still needed on spinal cord injuries since every single injury and its recovery can be different. And this is also why you should never stop exercising, even if you slow it down as you return to a more normal life. You never know when recovery will occur.
About the Author
Spinal cord injuries are traumatic for patients and their families. They cause disruptive changes to every aspect of your life and there is a lot of new information to navigate and understand. Our experts have collected everything in one place to help you learn more about your injury, locate doctors and treatment centers, find financial support, and get assistance navigating your next move.