Spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injury can affect the body in different ways. Most of the time, a spinal cord injury will result in the permanent loss of movement in the body, below the injury site. This loss of movement is also known as paralysis and the loss of sensation to the body parts affected usually accompanies the paralysis as well. When a person loses the use of most of his or her body due to a spinal cord injury, this is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. This paralysis involves loosing the functioning of both arms and legs. If a person loses control of the lower body only, this is called paraplegia.

Whether a person suffers from quadriplegia or paraplegia all depends on the location of the injury and the severity of the injury. The higher up in the spinal cord that an injury occurs, the greater chance a person will have more paralysis. When a person suffers an injury in the spinal cord in the neck, the person may loose all use of his or her limbs as well as the use of the muscles they use to breathe. This may result in a person needing to be on a respirator in order to breathe. This is considered quadriplegia.

If a person suffers from an injury that is lower than the arms or at waist level, the person stands a higher chance of becoming paraplegic and only loosing use of their legs. The severity of the injury also plays and important role in how much use of the body is lost. The injuries are known as complete or partial and this is determined by how much the width of the spinal cord has been damaged.

Complete spinal cord injury means that the person has lost all or almost all of the sensations and motor functioning below the injured area. With this type of damage, the cord is not really cut completely in half but the person will not be able to recover from the injury. With a partial spinal cord injury, a person may be able to recover to a certain degree. Partial spinal cord injuries mean that the spinal cord is still conveying few messages to or from the brain. Therefore people with partial spinal cord injuries may still be able to feel and move their limbs.

Anyone that suffers from a spinal cord injury may exhibit different signs and symptoms. Some of the most common side effects are having loss of movement and sensation, pain, stinging, loss of bowel and bladder control, trouble breathing, changes in sexual functioning, and reflex spasms or exaggerated reflex activities. Some of the most common ways of getting a spinal cord injury are from accidents. Accidents involving motor vehicles, sports injuries, falls from high places or falls involving the elderly, diving into shallow water and gun or knife attacks are all common ways of damaging the spinal cord. Also illness caused by cancers, arthritis, inflammation and infections surrounding the spinal cord may also be to blame.

Once a person has suffered a spinal cord injury it is important to get medical help right away. Although there is no way to completely repair spinal cord damage there are often medications, surgeries and therapies available for a person, depending on their condition. If you or someone around you has an accident or shows signs of spinal cord damage, be sure to leave the person as still as possible and call for emergency help immediately. It is best to not risk further damage to the spinal cord by trying to move the person on your own.

Last updated on Sep 4th, 2009 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed