Article: Spinal Cord Injury Information Page

What is Spinal Cord Injury?


Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when a traumatic event results in damage to cells within the spinal cord or severs the nerve tracts that relay signals up and down the spinal cord. The most common types of SCI include contusion (bruising of the spinal cord) and compression (caused by pressure on the spinal cord). Other types of injuries include lacerations (severing or tearing of some nerve fibers, such as damage caused by a gun shot wound), and central cord syndrome (specific damage to the corticospinal tracts of the cervical region of the spinal cord). Severe SCI often causes paralysis (loss of control over voluntary movement and muscles of the body) and loss of sensation and reflex function below the point of injury, including autonomic activity such as breathing and other activities such as bowel and bladder control. Other symptoms such as pain or sensitivity to stimuli, muscle spasms, and sexual dysfunction may develop over time. SCI patients are also prone to develop secondary medical problems, such as bladder infections, lung infections, and bed sores.

Is there any treatment?

While recent advances in emergency care and rehabilitation allow many SCI patients to survive, methods for reducing the extent of injury and for restoring function are still limited. Immediate treatment for acute SCI includes techniques to relieve cord compression, prompt (within 8 hours of the injury) drug therapy with corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone to minimize cell damage, and stabilization of the vertebrae of the spine to prevent further injury.

What is the prognosis?

The types of disability associated with SCI vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury, the segment of the spinal cord at which the injury occurs, and which nerve fibers are damaged. Most people with SCI regain some functions between a week and 6 months after injury, but the likelihood of spontaneous recovery diminishes after 6 months. Rehabilitation strategies can minimize long-term disability.

What research is being done?

NINDS research on trauma-related disorders such as SCI focuses on increasing scientific understanding of how changes in molecules, cells, and their complex interactions determine the outcome of SCI, and finding ways to prevent and treat these injuries. There is also increasing interest in neural stem and progenitor cells and their potential application in cell replacement therapies for the treatment of complex neurological disorders such as SCI.

Select this link to view a list of studies currently seeking patients.

Organizations

Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation/ Paralysis Resource Center
500 Morris Avenue
Springfield, NJ   07081
info@crpf.org; research@crpf.org
http://www.christopherreeve.org
Tel: 973-379-2690 800-225-0292
Fax: 973-912-9433

National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
4200 Forbes Boulevard
Suite 202
Lanham, MD   20706-4829
naricinfo@heitechservices.com
http://www.naric.com
Tel: 301-459-5900/301-459-5984 (TTY) 800-346-2742
Fax: 301-562-2401

Miami Project to Cure Paralysis/ Buoniconti Fund
P.O. Box 016960
R-48
Miami, FL   33101-6960
mpinfo@miamiproject.med.miami.edu
http://www.themiamiproject.org
Tel: 305-243-6001 800-STANDUP (782-6387)
Fax: 305-243-6017

National Spinal Cord Injury Association
6701 Democracy Blvd.
#300-9
Bethesda, MD   20817
info@spinalcord.org
http://www.spinalcord.org
Tel: 301-214-4006 800-962-9629
Fax: 301-881-9817

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
801 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC   20006-3517
info@pva.org
http://www.pva.org
Tel: 202-USA-1300 (872-1300) 800-424-8200
Fax: 202-785-4452

Spinal Cord Society
19051 County Highway 1
Fergus Falls, MN   56537
N/A
http://members.aol.com/scsweb
Tel: 218-739-5252 or 218-739-5261
Fax: 218-739-5262

Geoffrey Lance Foundation for SCI Research and Support
132 S. 10th Street, #375 Main
c/o Regional SCI Center of Delaware Valley
Philadelphia, PA   19107
info@geofflance.com
http://www.geofflance.com
Tel: 877-GLANCE1 (452-6231)
Fax: 215-955-5152

 


Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Cache Date: December 16, 2004

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