A spinal cord injury (SCI) can result from trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident, violence, or a fall; or a disease or disorder, such as a tumor or virus, that affects the spinal cord's ability to send and receive messages to and from the brain. About 200,000 people in the United States have spinal cord injuries. Most injuries occur from a traumatic event, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and most of these injuries occur in men.
A person with SCI typically has some paralysis and decreased or loss of sensation below the level of injury. Depending on the severity of a person's spinal cord injury, an occupational therapist can provide treatment in a hospital, clinic, or at home that allows the person to become as independent as possible. With proper treatment, thousands of people with SCI have continued to lead happy and productive lives.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping both adults and children with a broad range of physical, developmental, and behavioral issues in addition to spinal cord injury, such as arthritis, chronic pain, and mood disorders. Practitioners also help clients in wellness techniques that may prevent injury and disease.