Overview of Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries messages between the brain and the body to control muscle movement, detect sensations, and perform other bodily functions. A spinal cord injury is any damage to the nerves in the spinal cord, e.g. bruising or tearing, that inhibits the brain’s communication with the body.

Cause and Effect of Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury may be due to either traumatic or non-traumatic causes. Non-traumatic causes include diseases and medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, spinal stenosis, polio, spina bifida, and birth defects. Traumatic causes include vehicle accidents, acts of violence, falls, and other events in which an external force damages the spinal cord.

When the spinal cord is injured, messages from the brain cannot be carried below the point of the injury; this means that the closer the injury is to the head, the more parts of the body that are affected. Typically, the result of SCI is some degree of paralysis as well as symptoms including pain, muscle spasms, loss of bowel & bladder control, and sexual dysfunction to name a few. Some SCI survivors also experience secondary medical problems such as bladder infections, lung infections, and bedsores.