Spinal Stabilization

After trauma to the spine, it is necessary to stabilize the vertebrae. The instruments involved in stabilization vary depending on the location and severity of the trauma. The field of spinal surgery is currently using a variety of techniques. As technology continues to advance, spinal surgeries continue to improve however, some techniques from the 1940’s and 50’s are still being used. The most common surgeries use similar instrumentation. Polyaxial Pedicle Screws, Interbody Cages, and Cervical Plates are among the list of instruments used in spinal fusion.
Plates, Cages and Screws
spinal cord injury, spinal cord injury recovery, what is a spinal cord injury, spinal anatomyPolyaxial Pedicle Screws
Most commonly used for vertebral injuries in the Lumbar or Thoracic region; they are a type of screw designed for implantation into a vertebral pedicle. They are used to help correct the trauma to the spine by immobilizing it. The screws do not fixate the spinal segment, but act as anchor points that can be connected with a rod. This combination is commonly referred to as “rods”.

Vertebral Body Replacement Cages
The cages are Titanium cylinders that are used as a replacement for severely damaged vertebrae. They are meant to offer excellent fixation between the vertebrae but are often used in combination with other types of hardware, such as Pedicle Screws to provide extra support.

Cervical Plates
Used to increase neck stability following single and multi-level cervical surgery. They have improved the success rate of fusion in cervical spine surgery. Disturbance to a patient’s anatomy is minimized by the pre-curved and variable screw design. The plates are designed with a curve to match the natural curve of the cervical spine. The variable screws allow for the surgeon to choose the best “fit” for each patient.
spinal cord injury, spinal cord injury recovery, what is a spinal cord injury, spinal anatomy
 spinal cord injury, spinal cord injury recovery, what is a spinal cord injury, spinal anatomy
The Effects of Spinal Stabilization
The purpose for the rods, plates, and fusions is immobilization. After trauma to the spinal cord, it is necessary to stabilize the vertebrae that surround the affected area. However, most Project Walk clients are minimally limited by their hardware.

Clients with thoracic injuries usually have rods and screws. They are usually limited in rotational movements and to some extent, flexion and extension. Also, some limitation may be noticed in developmental core movements. Some clients will experience pain caused by their hardware. It is not unheard of for some clients with thoracic or lumbar injuries to get their rods removed but there are risks with this procedure and should be considered after consulting with a physician.

Usually clients who have cervical injuries find it difficult to look up or down. Occasionally they will experience difficulty in rotational movements of the neck. Not many of our cervical injury clients complain about pain caused by their plates. Every client is different and it is important to understand the limitations that a client may have is based on the level of injury, and on the type or length of the hardware.
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