Spinal Cord Injury | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library

Posted: July 22, 2015 at 12:42 pm

What is an acute spinal cord injury?

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The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) is due to a traumatic injury that can either result in a bruise (also called a contusion), a partial tear, or a complete tear (called a transection) in the spinal cord. SCI is more common in men and young adults.

There are about12,000 new cases of SCI each year. The number of people in the U.S. in 2008 living with a spinal cord injury was approximately 259,000.

SCI results in a decreased or absence of movement, sensation, and body organ function below the level of the injury. The most common sites of injury are the cervical and thoracic areas. SCI is a common cause of permanent disability and death in children and adults.

The spine consists of 33 vertebrae, including the following:

* By adulthood, thefive sacral vertebrae fuse to form one bone, and the fourcoccygeal vertebrae fuse to form one bone.

These vertebrae function to stabilize the spine and protect the spinal cord. In general, the higher in the spinal column the injury occurs, the more dysfunction a person will have.

Injury to the vertebrae does not always mean the spinal cord has been damaged. Likewise, damage to the spinal cord itself can occur without fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae.

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Spinal Cord Injury | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library

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