Chronic Complications of Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious medical condition that causes functional, psychological and socioeconomic disorder. Therefore, patients with SCI experience significant impairments in various aspects of their life. The goals of rehabilitation and other treatment approaches in SCI are to improve functional level, decrease secondary morbidity and enhance health-related quality of life. Acute and long-term secondary medical complications are common in patients with SCI. However, chronic complications especially further negatively impact on patients’ functional independence and quality of life. Therefore, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic secondary complications in patients with SCI is critical for limiting these complications, improving survival, community participation and health-related quality of life. The management of secondary chronic complications of SCI is also important for SCI specialists, families and caregivers as well as patients. In this paper, we review data about common secondary long-term complications after SCI, including respiratory complications, cardiovascular complications, urinary and bowel complications, spasticity, pain syndromes, pressure ulcers, osteoporosis and bone fractures. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of risk factors, signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment approaches for secondary long-term complications in patients with SCI.

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