Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is often associated with a neck or back fracture. In general, SCI is a lesion in the spinal nerves, the set of central and most important nerves of the body, as a result of trauma to the spine bones.
Most cases of SCI occur when a trauma breaks or squeezes the vertebrae or bones of the back. As a consequence, axons (nerves) are damaged. They are the long nerve fibres that pass between the vertebrae, and transmit signals between the brain and the rest of the body.
A Spinal Cord Injury is described by its level, type and severity. The level is indicated by the letter and the number of the vertebra where the injury is (for example C3, T2 or L4). A spine is formed by the following:
-There are seven cervical vertebrae (C1 to C7), which are found in the neck.
-Twelve thoracic vertebrae (also called dorsal) (T1 to T12), which are located in the upper part of the back.
-Five lumbar vertebrae (L1 to L5), found in the lower part of the back.
-Beneath these are five sacral vertebrae that fuse to form the sacrum.
-Finally, there are four vertebrae of the coccyx.
Types of SCI
There are two types of severity of SCI:
Complete injury: It is when the injury is so severe that almost all sensibility (sensory function) and all the ability to control movement (motor function) below the SCI area has been lost.
Incomplete injury: It occurs when part of the sensory or motor function is maintained below the area of the damaged spine.
Unfortunately, at this time there are no known ways to reverse the damage to the spinal cord. However, researchers are still working on new treatments, including prosthetics and medications, which could promote the regeneration of nerve cells or improve the function of nerves that remain after SCI.
The treatment of SCI currently focuses on preventing further harm and empowering people with SCI so that they can return to an active and productive life.
Doctors may perform surgery to remove fluid or tissue that compresses the spinal cord (decompressive laminectomy); remove bone fragments, disk fragments or foreign objects; fuse the fractured bones of the spine, or place supports for it.
People with SCI can benefit from rehabilitation therapy, such as:
-Physiotherapy, which aims to strengthen muscles and improve mobility and communication.
-Use of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers and leg support.
-Use of adaptive communication devices.
-Techniques for personal care and control of the bladder and bowels.
-Strategies to cope with spasticity and pain.
-Vocational therapy to help people return to work with the use of assistive devices, if necessary.
-Recreational therapy such as sports or social activities.
-Improved strategies for exercising and eating a healthy diet (obesity and diabetes are potential risk factors for people with SCI).
-Functional electrical stimulation to help restore neuromuscular function, sensory function, or autonomic function (eg, bladder, bowel, or respiratory function).
–Stem Cells. Some evidence shows promising results
At The London Spine Unit, The Harley Street Hospital, we have some of the best specialists to diagnose and treat this disease. Book an appointment to get a check up.