Spinal Cord Injury

What happens in spinal cord injury (SCI)?

The spinal cord carries signals down from the brain to the muscles that bring about movement. An injury to the spinal cord can interrupt these signals and cause difficulty or inability to move the muscles supplied by the part of the cord at and below the level of injury. 

The spinal cord also carries sensations up to the brain, so an injury will interrupt these signals and the patient may not feel anything in the part of the body below the injury.

What causes spinal cord injury?

  • Trauma (falls from heights, car accidents, sports injuries)

  • Tumors that grow close to the cord and compress it.

  • Arthritis

  • Osteoporosis

  • Diseases that cause inflammation of the spinal cord or disrupt the blood supply of the cord.


What are the types of spinal cord injury?

  • Depending on the extent to which the cord is affected, the injury is classified as complete or incomplete. A complete injury will cause an inability to move or feel below the level of injury. An incomplete injury may retain some strength and sensation below the level.

  • Depending on the limbs involved, it is further classified as quadriplegia (injury at the level of the neck, affecting the arms, abdomen and legs) or paraplegia (injury at the level of the chest or below, affecting the abdomen and legs)