An Australian toddler was given a second chance at life after doctors performed an incredible surgery to reconnect his spinal cord and head.
After a serious car accident, the toddler’s mother pulled him from the wreckage and was horrified to discover his neck had been broken. The toddler had sustained what is known as a C1 or C2 spinal cord injury. These types of injuries are often fatal, as many accident survivors cannot breathe without assistance. A majority of people with C1 or C2 spinal cord injuries never even make it to the hospital.
In the case of the Australian toddler, the nerves connecting his brain and the rest of his body had not completely severed. This incredibly lucky toddler was still able to breathe on his own, which allowed doctors to use a CT scan to render a 3-D image of his injury. By developing a 3-D image of the spinal cord injury, doctors could more effectively plan how to reattach the toddler’s head and spine.
Doctors spent more than six hours using screws, bits of wire and bone fragments to rebuild the toddler’s spine. Although the toddler will require a neck brace to ensure the spinal column grows back correctly, he can walk again and has restored movement. Most C1 and C2 spinal cord injuries result in permanent paralysis below the neck.
What This Story Can Tell Us About Spinal Cord Injury Treatments
This feat of modern medicine serves as a great example of medical professionals continuing to find ways to treat accident survivors with spinal cord injuries. Although the toddler in this story was lucky his nerves had not severed, researchers are testing ways to rebuild damaged nerves, perhaps granting the same opportunity to other accident survivors.
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