An Introduction to the Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Process

September 28, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

The first goal after a person suffers a spinal cord injury is to address the injury and prevent any further damage. This is the acute phase of the recovery process. In the acute phase of the spinal cord injury recovery process hospitalization and immobilization are often required. And, depending on the type and severity of the injury, surgery may be required during this phase. The main element of this phase of recovery is medical intervention.  

If you have a recent spinal cord injury, you need to focus on getting well enough to move past the acute phase. There will likely be some therapy and training before you leave the hospital, but the real recovery process will begin when you move into the rehabilitation phase of recovery.


Once you move past the acute phase of recovery, you will move onto the rehabilitation phase. Rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury looks different for each person. For example, once you leave the hospital you may need to spend some time in a rehabilitation facility. In this type of facility, you will participate in physical and occupational therapy for several hours a day. You may also receive other services such as group and individual counseling-which can be helpful as you adjust mentally and emotionally to your new way of life. If you have a severe spinal cord resulting in paralysis it can be very helpful to spend part of your rehabilitation in a facility where you can focus completely on learning to function in your new situation.

When you get to go home (either from the hospital or rehab facility) you will still continue with in-home or outpatient therapy. You will work with two main types of therapists, physical and occupational. Physical therapy will help you address some of your new issues with mobility. Occupational therapy will help you learn new ways to complete the tasks related to everyday living. It is important that you cooperate with your therapists and work on your own outside of therapy. Physical and occupational therapy will help you regain the highest level of independence possible with your specific spinal cord injury.

After a spinal cord injury, you will have a team of professionals who are willing and able to help you through the recovery process. This process will be ongoing and you continue to gain strength and endurance. While there are aspects of your mobility that you may never fully regain, the professionals on your rehab team can help you learn to function at the highest level within your ability.

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