Since most spinal cord injuries start with an accident, chances are the person will end up in an emergency room, where his or her condition is stabilized. In many situations, the patient can move straight from the emergency room to Shepherd Center, a 100-bed catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, to begin treatment. This was not the case in the past, and is one of the big advantages to having specialized facilities like Shepherd available today. At Shepherd, people who specialize in treating spinal cord injuries help the patient recover as much movement and sensation in his or her body as possible.
A spinal cord injury can be a life-changing event, and without the proper care, things can look hopeless. One of the most important things that Shepherd Center does from the start is to show patients that life is not over -- there is hope. Every step of the way, from intensive care and rehabilitation to returning to the community, Shepherd helps patients realize their independence.
Most people who leave Shepherd resume the activities they were doing before their injury, whether it means going back to work or school, participating in hobbies or sports or getting involved in the community. Their lives may be very different, and things may have to be adapted to accommodate the changes, but they have been given the tools and learned the skills necessary to get back into living. Today, a big factor in leading a productive life is technology, as we will discuss later in this article.