The spinal cord runs through a chain of boney rings known as the vertebrae. This vertebral column protects the spinal cord which works like a telephone cable sending messages of feeling and sensation to the brain which converts them into responses such as movement. When the spinal cord is injured these messages are interrupted or cannot get through at all. Depending on the extent of damage to the spinal cord, a person will be either partially or completely paralysed from the point of damage (lesion) downwards.

How is the spinal cord injured?

In a number of ways – usually through trauma (injury) to the delicate fibres of the spinal cord. Common causes of spinal cord injury include road traffic accidents, diving accidents and sports injuries. But it is not always trauma which damages the spinal cord. Viruses and viral infections, cysts and growths on the cord can all cause permanent damage.

What are Paraplegia and Tetraplegia?

Paraplegia, resulting from a broken back, is paralysis from the chest or waist downwards, with little or no movement or feeling in the lower limbs and lower part of the trunk.Tetraplegia resulting from a broken neck, also affects the arms and hands. Fractures or compression of the vertebrae which cause permanent damage to the cord may lead to loss of sensation, movement, bladder and bowel control, as well as affecting sexual function.

Information Courtesy of:
Spinal Injuries Association
76 St James Lane
London
N10 3DF

Tel: 020 8444 2121

For Further information visit the website
www.spinal.co.uk

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