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What is an SCI or Spinal Cord Injury?

The human spine is a vitally important piece of the human anatomy. It serves two main functions. The first is that it supports our body, keeping us upright, mobile and agile. The second is it that is serves as protective casing for a person’s spinal cord. A spinal chord is a thick bundle of nerves that connects the human brain to muscles in the body, telling them when to move. Two main functions that come from this are motor function and sensory function. Motor function relates to movement allowing us to run, jump and move. Sensory function communications sensations such as heat, pain or pressure.

Spinal Chord injuries, or SCI’s are when damage occurs to the spinal chord. These can be particularly serious because they have a dramatic impact on a person’s motor and sensory function. SCI’s can be caused either through trauma or through infections. If an SCI is caused by trauma, the person’s spinal chord is crushed resulting in a lack of blood flow to the muscles. Usually below the point at which the trauma has occurred, there is failure in the person’s sensations. An SCI caused through infection, causes a hemorrhage or clot in the spinal cord resulting in a lack of sensation from there down.

Spinal Chord Injuries can result in two main types of paralysis. The first is Paraplegia, which is where the individual is affected from the hips down. This would usually result in a full or partial loss of function in the legs and internal organs down. The second is Tetraplegia, which results in a full or partial loss of function from the neck and internal organs down. Tetraplegia usually occurs from an injury to the neck.

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