Spinal cord injuries
The spinal cord
The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system and is about 51 centimeters long.
The nerves that originate from it and are directed to the other parts of the body are the lower motor neurons and the sensory neurons.These spinal nerves originating from the spinal cord exit and enter each vertebral level and are responsible for specific areas of the body.
Spinal cord injury
Spinal cord injury is damage caused to the nerves of the spinal cord which is located within the spinal canal of the spine.Most injuries come from various spinal injuries.
This damage affects the ability of the nerves in the spinal cord to send and receive messages from the brain to the body systems that control motor, sensory and autonomic functions below the site of the damage.
There are basically two categories of spinal cord injuries: complete and partial:
- In the complete form the damage to the nerves is such that it does not allow any message to be carried from the brain to the parts of the body below the level of the damage.
- In the partial form, some residual motor and sensory activity remains below the level of the lesion.
Vertebrae are those large ring-shaped bones that form the spine. Vertebrae are named according to their position.
The first seven at the beginning, in the neck area are called cervical vertebrae. Cervical spinal cord injuries cause loss of breathing autonomy and loss of upper and lower limb function resulting in quadriplegia.
The twelve vertebrae that follow and are located in the chest area are called thoracic vertebrae. Lesions at the thoracic level affect the chest and legs and lead to paraplegia.
The five vertebrae that follow below are the lumbar vertebrae. Damage to the lumbar spine causes loss of control and function of the lower limbs, bladder, bowel and sexual functions.
The last five vertebrae are those of the sacrum which starts from the pelvis and extends to the end of the spine. Spinal cord injuries in this area cause flaccid lower motor neuron paralysis with partial loss of leg function and difficulties with bladder, bowel and sexual function.