Spinal cord injuries are divided into
complete injuries and incomplete injuries. It is possible that the
classification of the injury may change during recovery (26).
Cord Injury: Usually the loss
of sensation and motor ability associated with a complete spinal
cord injury caused by bruising, loss of blood to the spinal cord,
or pressure on the spinal cord; cut and severed spinal cords are
rare. Generally, complete spinal cord injuries result in total loss
of sensation and movement below the site of the injury.
MRI scan shows the damaged, but not cut spinal cord of a person
with a complete spinal cord injury
is an MRI of the unimjured patient in the previous picture.
The spinal cord is not compressed.
Spinal Cord Injury: An incomplete
spinal cord injury does not result in complete loss of movement
and sensation below the injury site. A variety of patterns exist
to classify such injuries:
cord syndrome- results from damage to the motor and
sensory pathways in the anterior areas of the spinal cord. Effects
include loss of movement and overall sensation, although some sensations
that travel by way of the still intact pathways can be felt (1).
Cord Syndrome- results from injury to the center of the cervical
area of the spinal cord (1). The damage
affects the corticospinal tract, which is responsible for carrying
signals between the brain and spinal cord to control movement (21).
Patients of central cord syndrome experience weakness or paralysis
in the arms and some loss of sensory reception. The loss of strength
and sensation is much less in the legs than in the arms (1).
Many patients with central cord syndrome spontaneously recover motor
function, and others experience considerable recovery in the first
six weeks following the injury.
syndrome- results from injury to the right or left side of
the spinal cord. On the side of the body where the injury occurred,
movement and sensation are lost below the level of the injury. On
the side opposite the injury, temperature and pain sensation are
lost due to the crossing of these pathways in the spinal cord (1)
to individual nerve cells- result in loss of sensory and
motor function in the area of the body to which the injured nerve
root corresponds. Thus, symptoms from these injuries vary depending
on the location and function of the particular nerve root.
contusions- the most common type of spinal cord injury. The
spinal cord is bruised, not severed, but the consequence is inflammation
and bleeding from blood vessels near the injury (2).
A spinal contusion results in temporary (usually one to two days)
incomplete or complete debilitation of the spinal cord (1).