AANS – Spinal Cord Injury

Posted: July 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Updated March 2015

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, as many as 450,000 people in the U.S. are living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Other organizations conservatively estimate this figure to be about 250,000.

Every year, an estimated 11,000 SCIs occur in the U.S. Most of these are caused by trauma to the vertebral column, thereby affecting the spinal cord's ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the body's systems that control sensory, motor and autonomic function below the level of injury.

According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), SCI costs the nation an estimated $9.7 billion each year. Pressure sores alone, a common secondary condition among people with SCI, cost an estimated $1.2 billion.


The Spinal Column/Cord

The spinal cord is about 18 inches long, extending from the base of the brain to near the waist. Many of the bundles of nerve fibers that make up the spinal cord itself contain upper motor neurons (UMNs). Spinal nerves that branch off the spinal cord at regular intervals in the neck and back contain lower motor neurons (LMNs).

The spine itself is divided into four sections, not including the tailbone:

Cervical vertebrae (C1-7) located in the neck;

Thoracic vertebrae (T1-12), in the upper back (attached to the ribcage);

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AANS - Spinal Cord Injury

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