Types Of Spinal Cord Injuries

Staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is one important thing to avoid any spinal injury. As seen by Dr David Gater director of Spinal Cord Injury medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, obese individuals carries high risk of spinal injury. In fact 60 percent of his patients who has spinal cord injury are obese ( News Medical 2004)

Generally spinal cord injuries are categorized into two namely complete spinal cord injuries and incomplete spinal cord injuries. The former injury comprise of injuries that leads to complete loss of function or paralysis below the area affected while the latter injury lead to some feeling and sensation below the area affected or under the point of injury. The degree of function or dysfunction depends on how severe the spinal cord is damaged. Read further for complete details of the types of spinal cord injuries.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries leads to complete tetraplegia or paraplegia. Complete tetraplegia is distinguished by loss of movement in the arm or hand although it really depends on the location of the injury, some still retain movement in the hand or arm.

Complete paraplegia is distinguished as loss of nerve function and motor skills permanently which leads to loss of feeling and movement in the legs, sexual region, bladder and bowel. The hands and arms save its normal function. Although there are some individuals who are lucky enough since they can still move their trunk but with limitation. They can still stand or walk but is assisted with certain equipment and only for short distances. But in most cases complete paraplegics do get around with use of self-propelled wheelchair.

C1 – C8. These injuries in the cervical region cause quadriplegia or paralysis of the lower and upper extremities.

C1 – C3. Here the patient’s legs and arms are paralyzed but they have full control in the movement of their head. They can speak and swallow, however they need mechanical ventilator to breathe.
C4. Legs and arms are completely paralyzed and patient can moved their shoulder and neck but has difficulty in breathing.
C5. There is some movement in the arms like they can bend their elbows or move their shoulders but there is complete paralysis in the legs. They may not have or may have difficulty in breathing.
C6. The patient has some movement in their arms like moving their shoulders, bend their elbows and extend their wrist.
C7 – C8. Patients can strengthen and bend their elbows and they can use some of their fingers. Weakness in breathing is present.

T1 – T12 Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury. This level of injuries is rare since this part of the spine is protected by the rib cage.

T1 – T9. Lower body is completely paralyzed. Levels of trunk mobility depend on the severity of the injury and patients may have a hard time in breathing.
T10 – T11. Lower body and legs are completely paralyzed but they have trunk movement.

L1 – S5 Lumbar and Sacral Spinal Cord Injury

L2 – S5. There is partial paralysis in the groin and lower extremities with different levels of weakness of the feet, ankles, hips and knee.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

This injury is the most common one and is distinguished by some level of movement under the point of injury. The extent of such injury is actually determined after any spinal shock receded that is about 6 to 8 weeks after injury. Incomplete spinal injuries are categorized into six and the following are;

Anterior Cord Syndrome. This is distinguished by an injury in front of the spinal cord which leads to pain feeling below the injury, impaired temperature and touch. Some movement can still be recovered later on.

Central Cord Syndrome. Injury is in the center of the spinal cord which leads to loss of function in the arms although you might retain some leg movement. Recovery might be possible.

Posterior Cord Syndrome. This is distinguished by injury in the back of the spinal cord which leads to poor coordination, temperature sensation, and pain and muscle power.

Brown Sequard Syndrome. This is distinguished by injury to one side of the spinal cord which leads to loss of movement but retained feeling or sensation on one side of the body.

Cauda Equina Lesion. Distinguished by injury in the nerves in regions between the first and second lumbar of the spine which leads to partial or complete loss of feeling or sensation. In some instances the nerves re grows and recovered mobility.

Conus Medullaris Syndrome. This is distinguished by an injury in the sacral region which may lead to weakness in the lower extremities, bladder problems and groin numbness.

Paralysis so far has no cure so that one should take care of its spine or back. Always do some preventive measure to avoid any types of injuries as much as possible and seek medical attention right away if you are feeling strange with your back.