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Spinal Cord InjuryRespirator Dependence Is Associated with Higher Mortality After Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

December 23, 20210

Spinal cord injury (SCI) can occur in any area of the spine, which is typically divided into three regions:

  • Cervical: The neck
  • Thoracic: The upper back
  • Lumbar: The lower back

In most cases, SCI-related motor dysfunction occurs below the region of injury; that is, a person with lumbar SCI might lose function only in the lower body, while a person with cervical SCI might lose function of the entire body (including limbs and organs) below the neck. Accordingly, cervical SCI is considered one of the most severe, debilitating forms of traumatic injury.

Research on the Impact & Aftermath of Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries

Any kind of SCI typically requires extensive health management and services in the months or years following injury. People living in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs), where health care services might be poorly equipped to manage the high demands associated with care for SCI patients who have been partially or totally paralyzed. To address these disparities, researchers need to better understand the factors associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality among SCI patients in LMICs.

A recent study focused on the relationship between cervical SCI and impaired respiratory function, which is common in cervical SCI because the lungs are located below the region of injury. A research team analyzed data from 135 patients who were admitted to a New Delhi trauma center for cervical SCI from 2017 to 2018. They were interested to identify factors that improved or worsened outcomes among these patients.

Data analysis revealed that about 1 in 5 of these patients died of their injuries. On average, patients spent 8 days on mechanical ventilation to support lung function while they began to stabilize, and then spent an additional week in the hospital before discharge. Importantly, the researchers found that the likelihood of developing severe respiratory problems increased with injury severity, and those who spent the longest time on mechanical ventilation or in the hospital more generally were least likely to survive.

These findings suggest that length of hospital stay and ventilator dependence are a useful predictors of morbidity following cervical SCI. As a high-income country, the United States has better health outcomes overall, however health disparities do exist across race/ethnicity and rural communities. Systems and policies across any health care system should therefore aim to improve outcomes for all SCI patients by improving the availability of specialty care services and facilities.

Works Cited: Sengupta D, Bindra A, Kumar N, et al. Respiratory morbidity and mortality of traumatic cervical spinal cord injury at a level I trauma center in India. Spinal Cord Series and Cases. (2021).

Our Award-Winning Personal Injury Firm Handles Spinal Cord Injury Cases

Our compassionate lawyers at Scarlett Law Group know that spinal cord injuries can impact both the life of the survivor and their family due to medical expenses, physical discomforts, emotional distress, lost wages, and other damages. For this reason, you should seek experienced legal representation immediately if you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence others.

Our seasoned spine injury lawyers can help you file an injury claim against the at-fault party right away. Failure to obtain legal advocacy can result in life-changing consequences, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our law firm to discuss your legal options.

To schedule a free case consultation with Scarlett Law Group, please call us today at 415-688-2176 or fill out our convenient online form.