People who sustain damage to their spinal cord, either through a traumatic injury or a disease process, can suffer lifelong paralysis and are at increased risk of many serious health complications.
Everyday tasks can take hours to complete. People may be ready to go back to work, but a simple fear of going to the bathroom may make it impossible. Activities or holidays are thwarted because of reoccurring pressure ulcers or urinary tract infections, which can lead to long spells in hospitals.
Spinal cord injury research can dramatically improve well-being and quality of life for every person living with paralysis, and Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research promotes investigations that lead to life-changing discoveries, greater understanding of the causes of complications and the development of new technologies to assist people with spinal cord injury.
Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your back. It’s protected by your spinal column or ‘backbone’, which is made up of vertebrae.
The spinal cord carries signals back and forth between your body and your brain, and if the cord is damaged, these signals become disrupted.
A spinal cord injury usually begins with a blow that fractures or dislocates your vertebrae (the bone discs that make up your spine).
Most injuries don’t actually cut through the spinal cord. Instead, they cause damage when pieces of vertebrae tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals.
You may hear the terms ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’ when discussing spinal cord injuries. This refers to the severity of the injury.
Immediate treatment after a spinal cord injury can reduce long-term effects and research continues into this area of medical intervention.