The Benefits of Physical Therapy After Spinal Cord Injuries

The Benefits of Physical Therapy After Spinal Cord Injuries hover background

Dec 15

Any way you look at it, a spinal cord injury is a scary reality to consider.  Your spine is like a control tower for your bones and muscles.  That’s why spinal cord injuries can instantly change lives forever. Any damage can make it challenging for the spinal cord to send and receive messages from the brain to the body.  According to the AANS, there are around 450,000 people in the United States who have a spinal cord injury.  

Spinal cord injuries is damage to any part of the spinal cord, or to the nerves at the end of the spinal canal.  The effects of an injury like this can be devastating for patients and their families.  But physical therapy after spinal cord injuries offers hope.  

First, here are some facts about spinal cord injuries:

  • There are approximately 54 cases per million population in the United States or approximately 17,000 new spinal cord injuries every year
  • The average age at injury has increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 42 years
  • Males account for around 80% of new spinal cord injury cases and most common in young, white males

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are divided into two broad categories:  complete and incomplete.

  • Complete spinal cord injuries: when the spinal cord is fully severed, eliminating function
  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries: the cord is only partially severed, allowing the injured person to retain some function

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Common causes of spinal cord injuries are:

  • Trauma
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Fall from heights
  • Violence—gunshot wounds or stabbing to the spine
  • Sports injuries—football, diving, equestrian, etc.
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Tumor

Common Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries

Here are some of the most common symptoms of spinal cord injuries:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of sensation
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Loss of fertility
  • Loss of libido or sexual function
  • Nerve pain
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs

The Benefits of Physical Therapy After Spinal Cord Injuries

Physical therapy will address the problems that can occur following a spinal cord injury so that the patient can maximize their potential for recover and regain their independence.  Exercise with a physical therapist will help:

  • To maintain cardiovascular health
  • To maintain the ability to perform activities of daily living and mobility, as well as preventing injury from muscle weakness or imbalance
  • Improve range of motion and reduce spasticity

Physical therapy can have lasting effects on function after spinal cord injuries, both in promoting neural recovery and in reducing or preventing other complications.  


If you have a spinal cord injury, physical therapy can help.  Schedule your appointment with Above & Beyond Physical Therapy today.  


Queen Creek Location
21321 E. Ocotillo Rd., Suite 122
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Ph: 480.987.1870
F: 480.987.9289

3201 W. Peoria Ave., Suite D800
Phoenix, AZ 85029
Ph: 602.866.2231
F: 602.866.2261