Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury consists of damage that occurs to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves located at the end of the spinal canal. Spinal injury can often cause permanent damage in strength, sensation and the ability to use other body portions below the injury. Here at St. Mary's Medical Center we offer some of the latest treatments and rehabilitation which allow for many people to life happy and productive lives.

A spinal cord injury is determined by the lowest part of your spine that is still functioning. The severity of a spinal cord injury is often called "the completeness" and can be classified as one of the following:

  • Complete – If your injury caused almost all feeling and ability to control movement below the injury of the spinal cord.
  • Incomplete – some function of feeling and movement below the injured portion of the spinal cord.

 A multitude of tests and neurological examination will be used to determine your completeness of the injury. Along with the completeness of the spinal cord injury, there are also various levels of paralysis as listed below:

  • Tetraplegia – Often times also referred to as quadriplegia, which means your arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs are all affected by the injury.
  • ParaplegiaThis type of paralysis affects all or part of the trunk, legs and pelvic organs.

How do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?

When one or more of your vertebrae are in any way fractured, compressed, or crushed due to a sudden impact or blow to your spine, the changes of suffering a spine injury are very high. Additional injury and damage can occur over the following days or weeks because of additional injuries around your spinal cord that may have occurred. If there is any amount of bleeding, swelling, inflammation and fluid accumulation near or around the spinal cord, this can also cause a severe spinal cord injury. Some other methods in which spinal injury can occur is from arthritis, cancer, infections or disk degeneration within the spine.

Signs of a spinal cord injury may include the following:

  • Problems or difficulty breathing or coughing and clearing mucus
  • Spasms
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch to affected areas
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Intense stinging sensation or pain caused by damage to nerve fibers 


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