A person who suffers from a spinal cord injury is likely going to feel the effects of the injury right away. The initial injury to the spinal cord causes the nerve cells in the area to die or become damaged. That is what causes some of the effects of the spinal cord injury. It isn’t, however, the only thing that affects the spinal cord.
The hours and days after the initial injury can sometimes lead to a worsening of the effects of the spinal cord injury. This is because of the release of toxic chemicals and the loss of oxygen that is likely to occur at the site of the spinal cord injury. In some cases, the effects can also be impacted by blood clots, bone pressing on the spinal cord, herniated disks and other similar complications.
In the past, it was recommended that surgical interventions be put off for several days in order to avoid worsening the effects. It has been found that immediate surgery to decompress the spinal cord might be more beneficial than waiting.
As time progresses, the inflammation and swelling of the spinal column might go down. As that occurs, it is likely that the person will begin to notice improvements in the effects of the spinal cord injury. In the case of incomplete spinal cord injuries, improvements are often noted up to 18 months or even longer after the accident that led to the injury.
Some spinal cord injuries mean that the person will need long-term care. If an accident is what led to the spinal cord injury, the person might choose to seek compensation to help with the costs of the necessary care.
Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “Spinal cord injury,” accessed July 21, 2016