Spinal Cord Injury continued from "about" page
Depending on the location and severity of damage along the spinal cord, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain or numbness to paralysis to incontinence. The prognosis also ranges widely, from full recovery in rare cases to permanent tetraplegia (also called quadriplegia) in injuries at the level of the neck, and paraplegia in lower injuries.
In the majority of cases the damage results from physical trauma such as car accidents, gunshots, falls, or sports injuries, but it can also result from nontraumatic causes such as infection, insufficient blood flow, tumors. Efforts to prevent SCI include individual measures such as using safety equipment, societal measures such as safety regulations in sports and traffic, and improvements to equipment.
Known since ancient times to be acatastrophic injury and long believed to be untreatable, SCI has seen great improvements in its care since the middle of the 20th century. Treatment of spinal cord injuries starts with stabilizing the spine and controlling inflammation to prevent further damage. Other interventions needed can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the injury, from bed rest to surgery.
In many cases, spinal cord injuries require substantial, long-term physical and occupational therapy in rehabilitation, especially if they interfere with activities of daily living.
Research into new treatments for spinal cord injuries includes stem cell implantation, engineered materials for tissue support, and wearable robotic exoskeletons.
Injuries can be cervical (C1–C8), thoracic (T1–T12), lumbar (L1–L5) or sacral (S1–S5). A person's level of injury is defined as the lowest level of full sensation and function. Paraplegia occurs when the legs are affected by the spinal cord damage (in thoracic, lumbar, or sacral injuries), and tetraplegia occurs when all four limbs are affected (cervical damage).
SCI is also classified by the degree of impairment. The International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury published by the American Spinal Injury Association, is widely used to document sensory and motor impairments following SCI. It is based on neurological responses, touch and pinprick sensations tested in each dermatome, and strength of the muscles that control key motions on both sides of the body. Muscle strength is scored on a scale of 0–5 and sensation is graded on a scale of 0–2: 0 is no sensation, 1 is altered or decreased sensation, and 2 is full sensation. Each side of the body is graded independently.