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June 1976

Introduction to Symposium on Cervical Spine Injuries

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.

Arch Surg. 1976;111(6):637. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1976.01360240017002

Spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating accidents that man can incur and still survive. Until relatively recent times, major paralysis from spinal injury was fatal, as these patients invariably died of urinary infection, pulmonary complications, and sepsis from skin necrosis.

Better understanding of the pathophysiology of spinal injury patients, along with the advent of antibiotic therapy, has now made long-term survival not only possible, but, in fact, expected. The development of specialized treatment centers, first in Europe and more recently in the United States, has offered to these patients not only survival but a chance to return to a productive life within the limits of their disability. Nevertheless, of the estimated 5,000 new patients each year with major spinal cord injury, only a few receive the skilled care that is available, and many continue in a dismal existence in chronic care hospital wards or nursing homes. Experience

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