Causes of Spinal Cord Injury:
Both paraplegia and quadriplegia are conditions which result from injury or trauma to the spinal cord. The spinal cord runs through the centre of the bony spine. It is like a system of telephone wires which conduct messages from the brain, through the nerves, to all parts of the body.
Damage can be due to various causes
People can receive damage to the spinal cord due to an accident, for example a:
- Motor accident
- Diving mishap
- Sporting accident
- Household accident
Damage can also result from a tumour or blood clot on the spinal cord. The majority of people who have a spinal cord injury are young males (who have a greater tendency to indulge in risky behaviour). However, there are people from both sexes and of all ages with spinal cord damage.
Loss of function usually relates to site of Injury
The amount of function lost tends to correspond to the level in the spinal cord where the damage takes place. A break near the top of the neck can mean that even breathing is difficult and that people must use a respirator. People with an injury in the lower neck, however, usually have arm movement but perhaps not finger movement. However they can often drive, work, write etc with the help of specialised equipment.
People with damage to the upper part of the spinal cord are called quadriplegics or tetraplegics. People with damage below this level are called paraplegic.
People with injuries in the lower back can have sensation and movement right to the hips. They can usually live totally independently with a minimum of help, as long as they can use a wheelchair and have the necessary alterations to their home, their bathroom and car.
There are many degrees of injury and function loss, which don’t always correspond to the level of the injury on the spine. Sometimes a quadriplegic only sustains partial damage to the spinal cord and can actually walk, though they may have lost other functions. At all levels, there is usually some loss of function in the bowel and bladder.
Some common Health problems
Other problems which can arise for people with spinal cord injuries are:
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Kidney stones
- Muscle spasm
- Pressure sores from sitting in one position for too long without a correct pressure cushion
- Wide and rapid fluctuations in body temperature
Some common causes of Spinal Cord Injury
- Most spinal cord injuries are caused by accidents.
- Loss of function tends to correspond to the level in the spinal cord where damage occurred.
- People with spinal cord injuries can lead productive lives.
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