Spinal-Injury.net :  Incomplete Paralysis


Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Quadriplegia, incomplete 31.2% - Paraplegia, complete 28.2% - Paraplegia, incomplete 23.1% - Quadriplegia, complete 17.5%

The figures above represent the resultant permanent disability suffered by a survey of people breaking their backs and necks.  These statistics show that incomplete spinal cord injuries are more prevalent than complete ones.  The figures for incomplete injuries may indeed be much higher because they don't take account of those people who have been treated by general hospitals instead of a specialist spinal injuries unit.  Today advances in medical knowledge and patient management at the scene of an injury mean a lot more people will survive what used to be a fatal injury.  These advances, critically in patient management are leading to a greater prevalence of incomplete injuries too.

An incomplete spinal cord lesion is the term used to describe damage to the spinal cord that is not absolute.  The incomplete injury will vary enormously from person to person and will be entirely dependant on the way the spinal cord has been compromised. 

The true extent of many incomplete injuries isn't fully known until 6-8 weeks post injury.  The spinal cord normally goes into what is called spinal shock after it has been damaged.  The swelling and fluid masses showing on any resultant X-ray,  MRI or CT scans, may well mask the true nature of the underlying injury.  It is not uncommon for someone who is completely paralysed at the time of injury to get a partial or very near full recovery from their injuries after spinal shock has subsided. 

Incomplete Paraplegia - Incomplete Tetraplegia

Types of Incomplete Spinal Injuries
An incomplete lesion is the term used to describe partial damage to the spinal cord. With an incomplete lesion, some motor and sensory function remains. People with an incomplete injury may have feeling, but little or no movement. Others may have movement and little or no feeling. Incomplete spinal injuries differ from one person to another because the amount of damage to each personís nerve fibres is different.

The effects of incomplete lesions depend upon the area of the cord (front, back, side, etc) affected. The part of the cord damaged depends on the forces involved in the injury.

Anterior Cord Syndrome: is when the damage is towards the front of the spinal cord, this can leave a person with the loss or impaired ability to sense pain, temperature and touch sensations below their level of injury. Pressure and joint sensation may be preserved. It is possible for some people with this injury to later recover some movement.

Central Cord Syndrome: is when the damage is in the centre of the spinal cord. This typically results in the loss of function in the arms, but some leg movement may be preserved. There may also be some control over the bowel and bladder preserved. It is possible for some recovery from this type of injury, usually starting in the legs, gradually progressing upwards.

Posterior Cord Syndrome: is when the damage is towards the back of the spinal cord. This type of injury may leave the person with good muscle power, pain and temperature sensation, however they may experience difficulty in coordinating movement of their limbs.

Brown-Séquard syndrome: is when damage is towards one side of the spinal cord. This results in impaired or loss of movement to the injured side, but pain and temperature sensation may be preserved. The opposite side of injury will have normal movement, but pain and temperature sensation will be impaired or lost.

Cauda equina lesion: The Cauda Equina is the mass of nerves which fan out of the spinal cord at between the first and second Lumbar region of the spine. The spinal cord ends at L1 and L2 at which point a bundle of nerves travel downwards through the Lumbar and Sacral vertebrae. Injury to these nerves will cause partial or complete loss of movement and sensation. It is possible, if the nerves are not too badly damaged, for them to grow again and for the recovery of function.

Incomplete Paraplegia - Incomplete Tetraplegia - Treatment - Complications - Causes of SCI - My Injury

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Spinal-Injury.net :  Incomplete Paralysis



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