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Spinal-Injury.net :  Spinal Cord Injury FAQ'S


  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Listed below are some of the common questions and answers that we get asked.  If you can't find your answer here please ensure you have looked through the Fact Sheets and Spinal Injury sections of the site.  If you still need your question answered then please post it on the Message Boards
 
  Spinal Cord Injury Questions
What is meant by the word paralysis?
What is the difference between paraplegia & tetraplegia?
My friend has the same level of injury as me but he can feel his legs and I canít. Why?
What is the difference between a complete and incomplete injury?
Do people with SCI ever get better?
Is there a cure for SCI?
What is life expectancy after SCI?
What does a person with SCI need to live in the community?
Does everyone with SCI use a wheelchair?
What is the Spinal Cord?
What is Spinal Cord Injury?
Is there any treatment for SCI?
My friend has broken his neck/back what is the prognosis?
What research is being done?
What causes a Spinal Cord Injury?
How is sexuality affected by spinal cord injury?
How do you pass water / manage your bowels?
Parenthood - is it possible for me now I'm paralysed?
Where should spinal cord injured persons go for rehabilitation?
What does the spinal cord look like and what does it do?
What happens when nerve fibers regrow?
What is a Stem Cell?

General Questions
How do I chat on your site?
How do you use the message boards?
Can I use your story for my college/work report?


What is meant by the word paralysis?
Paralysis refers to the inability to control movement or to detect sensations such as touch and temperature. Back to top

What is the difference between paraplegia & tetraplegia?
Paraplegia can be generalised as losing control of movement and sensation from the waist down, the term tetraplegia includes loss of function in the upper body, arms and hands. For further information see Paraplegia, Tetraplegia  Back to top

My friend has the same level of injury as me but he can feel his legs and I canít. Why?
The amount of movement and sensation you have will depend on which parts of the spinal cord have been damaged. Those parts of your friend's spinal cord responsible for transmitting sensory information have been saved while those responsible for controlling movement may have been damaged. For further information see Complete Injury, Incomplete Injury sections. Back to top

What is the difference between a complete and incomplete injury?
Complete' describes injuries where there is effectively no transmission of signals across a spinal cord lesion, with no voluntary control of movement or perception of sensations below the lesion. 'Incomplete' injuries are those where some of the pathways across the spinal cord lesion are undamaged. The outcome can be extremely variable and depends on which parts of the spinal cord are damaged.  For further information see Complete Injury, Incomplete Injury sections. Back to top

Do people with SCI ever get better?
At the time of injury, the spinal cord swells. When the swelling goes down, some functioning may return. Especially in incomplete injuries, functioning may return as late as 18 months after the injury. However, only a very small fraction of people with SCI recover all functioning. There are major advances happening in the research field today.  For further information see Research / Cure section. Back to top

Is there a cure for SCI?
Most body parts and organs can repair themselves after they are injured. However the central nervous system cannot. Attempting to repair the damage caused by a brain or spinal cord injury is a puzzle that has not yet been solved. Nevertheless the damage caused by an SCI can be reduced by limiting immediate cell death and reducing the inflammation of the injured cord.  Attempts to regenerate function in the damaged area are focusing on regrowing nerves, blocking the mechanism that stops neurons from re-growing themselves, inserting new cells and bypassing the damaged area. For further information see Research / Cure section. Back to top

What is life expectancy after SCI?
Before World War II, most people who sustained SCI died within weeks of their injury due to urinary dysfunction, respiratory infection or bedsores. However modern antibiotics and materials such as plastics and latex, and better procedures for dealing with the everyday issues of living with SCI, mean many people approach the lifespan of the general population. Most who survive the first 24 hours are still alive 10 years later. Back to top

What does a person with SCI need to live in the community?
Each person with a disability is different. Each will have different needs in levels of care and equipment. Care comes in various forms: personal, domestic, household, respite, nursing, community access.

Personal care: showering, toileting, transferring, feeding.
Domestic services: meal preparation, shopping, cleaning, ironing.
Household support: gardening, home cleaning, home maintenance.
Community access: transport, companion.
Nursing: medication.
Respite: for time spent away from home.
Other: childcare and workplace or education support.

People with paraplegia will need little or no personal care, but will need assistance with domestic duties.

People with high cervical injury can require 24 hour care.

Equipment needs include manual or power wheelchair with battery charger, portable ramps, hoist, pressure relief cushion, shower chair, catheter, adjustable bed, air conditioning, ventilator, physiotherapy, home automation (possible voice controlled), computer, modified vehicle.

Does everyone with SCI use a wheelchair?
People with high injuries usually need a power wheelchair for independent mobility. People with low cervical SCIs and below may be able to use manual wheelchairs.

Manual chairs are more convenient as they cost and weigh less and are easy to fold for transport. However the independence provided by a power chair to the person who needs it outweighs any limitations.

Some people walk using crutches and leg braces. This does not mean they will never use a wheelchair, perhaps preferring them only for longer distances. Back to top

What is the Spinal Cord?
The spinal cord enables your brain to communicate with your body. Up and down the spinal cord, every second of your life, messages are sent to keep you on the move. When a spinal cord injury occurs, communication may be severed, resulting in a loss of function. Back to top

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. Back to top

Is there any treatment for SCI?
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.  For further information see Treatment section of this site. Back to top

My friend has broken his neck/back 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. For further information see Treatment section of this site. Back to top

What research is being done?
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.  For further information see Research / Cure section. Back to top

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury?
The most common causes of spinal cord injury are car and other motor vehicle collisions (54.7%), falls (17.7%), and other medical conditions and sports injuries (27.6%). The injury is usually caused by sudden impact, which crushes the spine and cord. For further information see Causes of SCI section. Back to top

How is sexuality affected by spinal cord injury?
Sexual function, as in all other human bodily systems, is controlled by the central nervous system. Thus, any injury to the central nervous system will affect sexual function. The question is to what extent function and sensation will be affected with injuries at various levels and degrees of severity. Also, in what ways do the symptoms manifest themselves in males v. females. As one can imagine, this is a vast and complex subject that cannot be adequately treated in just a few paragraphs. For further information see Fact Sheets section. Back to top

How do you pass water / manage your bowels?
Spinal cord injury at any level almost always affects your control over your bladder and bowels. This is because the nerves controlling these internal organs are attached to the very base of the spinal cord (levels S2-4), and then pass down through the cauda equina, the horse's tail, below the cord itself. In the old days it was said, rather crudely and pessimistically, that spinal cord injury made you doubly incontinent. For many people this is one of the worst horrors, the idea of being condemned to a life of indignity with no control over the basic bodily functions. However, although you will not have the same control that you used to before your injury, choosing freely (within certain limits) when and where to go a whole range of techniques and equipment exist to help you to manage your bladder and bowels. These techniques include the use of movement, pressure, implanted electrodes and/or drugs to stimulate muscles which no longer respond to your brain; diet and/or drugs to slow down or speed up the way the body handles fluids and solids; the use of tubes and drainage bags; re-routing of the body's drainage channels; and pads and other special clothing to absorb any leakage. Each individual is different, but used singly or in combination, appropriate continence aids and techniques should enable you to re-establish a degree of control over both your bladder and bowels, and enable you to lead a normal life.  For further information see Fact Sheets section. Back to top

Parenthood - is it possible for me now I'm paralysed?
Were you told, whilst in hospital after your injury, that children for you would be out of the question? Were you advised not to even think about it? Many people with a spinal cord injury, both male and female, tetraplegic and paraplegic are the proud mothers and fathers of children post injury. I'm not saying its going to be easy or possible for everyone but there is hope. For further information see Fact Sheets section. Back to top

Where should spinal-cord-injured persons go for rehabilitation?
In the United Kingdom, it's best to try to get admission to one of the specialist spinal injuries units, the contact information for all UK units is held in the Fact Sheets section.

Some factors to consider in choosing a specialist unit: Reputation/word of mouth. Proximity to home, family, friends. Availability of facilities needed/wanted for one's specific rehabilitation objectives. For example, FES,physiotherapy, occupational therapy, attitudes of staff.

In the USA, The National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA at 1-800-962-9629) maintains a current list of all accredited programs... over 50 in all. Back to top
 
What does the spinal cord look like and what does it do?
The cord in humans may be likened to a coaxial cable, about one inch in diameter, and is a continuation of the brain. It looks like firm, white fat; nerves extend out from the cord to the muscles, skin and bones, to control movement, receive sensations and regulate bodily excretions and secretions. The 31 pairs of spinal nerves divide the cord into the following segments: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 1 coccygeal.For further information see Spinal Injury section. Back to top

What happens when nerve fibers regrow?
The nerve cell body remains intact, and only the "sending" or "receiving" fibers have to regrow as longer extensions from the nerve cell body. The peripheral nerves, outside the brain and spinal cord can do this quite easily. But within the brain and spinal cord there is much impediment to such regrowth. For further information see Research / Cure section. Back to top

What is a Stem Cell?
All mammals begin as two cells -- sperm and egg -- that combine into a single cell. This single cell will divide exponentially into specialized cells making up various organs and systems -- all the tissues of a new organism. Simply put, a stem cell is an immature cell that can become a different cell, or perhaps become one of many different cells. Most stem cells also can renew themselves -- divide -- indefinitely. These two characteristics are what present a new pathway to repairing damage to the human body caused by trauma, degeneration and disease. For further information see Research / Cure section. Back to top

How do I chat / meet other people on your site?
The chat room obviously requires two people for it to work. It will then work in real time, allowing several people to chat together. There are two ways of doing this:

1) Enter the chat room and wait......You will be visible to other site visitors as 'in' the chat room

2) Arrange a time to meet someone else in there. If you want to talk with me then email me and I'll do my best to be there :)

You can of course use the Message Boards too, as soon as you post/reply to a message it will update straight away and be visible to everyone else too. Chat Room, Message Boards. Back to top

How do you use the message boards?
You do not have to register if you just want to read the messages. If you want to be part of our community and join in with posts/replies etc then you MUST register first.

Please, please don't register a username then not use the board it wastes valuable resources.

Here are some guidelines about getting the most out of the Message Boards . Hope it helps.

Registration: This is where you pick your user name and password as well as agree to the terms of the bboard (standard stuff). You must put the dot in the 'agree' section to be able to register, once you click 'register' your password will be sent to the email address you registered and you will be at a login page.

Login: Once you have registered, you'll be asked to login. Either cut n paste your password into the password box or type it in manually paying attention to upper and lower case letters and numerals etc. When you do log in, be sure to log in "Forever" or check off "Always stay logged in" so that you don't have to login again after the specified amount of time is up. Then each time you return to the message board you will already be logged in.

You should be put right onto the main page for the forum. If you receive an error message and it asks you to log in again, first thing you should do is make sure you have cookies enabled in your browser preferences. Once you do that, shut down your browser and reopen it. Should work.

If not, try this:
1. Hit your back button on your browser to get you to the last page you were on--even if it is the login page.
2. From there hit the "Home" button on the menu bar below the Spinal Injury Net banner or do what you can to go back and get to the message board (you *are* logged in so don't worry about it saying you are not).
3. Refresh the Board by using the message board link on the left hand side of my website
6. If that doesn't work, email me and I'll try and help you through it, it will only be something simple

Profile: Once you get in, you can click on the "Profile" button in the menu bar at the top and personalize your posts. This is where you can change your email address and pass word. You can let people know what your AOL, Yahoo, or MSN IM name is. You can set your time zone. This board is set to GMT

Probably the most fun is personalizing your posts. You can set up a quote as well as your signature which shows up at the end of your message. Signatures can use code to make it pretty and you can link to a graphic as well. Please just keep the pictures relatively small. Any time you change your profile info it changes it on all your messages, past and present.

Many people are wondering what an AVATAR is and where to get one. Well, an avatar is a picture used to represent you. Doesn't have to BE you, just something fun. (See my pic of a cartoon Moose for example) You can set one up within your profile settings--boardnation has several to choose from--or you can link to a picture someplace on the web. You just need to have the complete url (i.e.http://www.yoursite.com/images/youricon.gif). All I ask is that you try to keep the size on the small end--like no more than 80x80 pixels if possible. And if there is one you'd like but haven't seen or is too big, contact me and I'll see what I can do. Just ask me and we'll find a solution.

Posting: Probably the best place to read particulars on posting to this bboard is in the "Posting" section of the HELP file which can be accessed on the menu bar at the top of the page. But, a few things to know:
1. To post a new topic/thread, click on the category you wish to post in eg (general sci discussion) to bring you to the main bboard. Click the "New Post" button at the top right of the main bboard.
2. You can edit your messages by clicking on the "Modify" button within your post.
3. Only Moderators and Administrators can delete messages. So, if you have one you really are sorry you put up there, contact me and I will delete it. DON'T WORRY ABOUT MAKING MISTAKES just go ahead and try it.

Text Effects / Links etc: These are accessed by all the little buttons above the posting text box.  For them to work properly put your words inside the two sets of brackets that are created e.g. [b] your text here [/b]  The words 'your text here' will then display in bold.
 
Fun stuff about posting: Smilies are available now and there is quite a bit to jazz up your messages. Please go see the YaBB HELP file (as mentioned above) to see what they are.

Instant Messages: This is much like using your "E-MAIL" only you don't get email sent to your personal account. You can get it right at the bboard when you log in. To send a message, click on the person's handle you wish to contact. You will be sent to their public profile. At the bottom of the page it will say "Send this member a private message." Click on it and write your message. If you want to know if you have any messages, just look to the right of the banner to see if there is a notification. If you do, click on the number and it will take you to the message.

Instant messages are a great way to get in touch with Admin and the Moderators as well as each other. However: Do not let your messages back up. Space is limited on this server and we will go in and delete if you do not. Only leave what's necessary.

Notifications: Another button on your menu bar will allow you to turn on or off announcement notifications to your personal email. I don't intend to send out many announcements, so it's up to you whether or not you'd like to hear from me.

Miscellaneous: Many problems viewing or using the bboard can be attributed to your internet browser. Web sites can look vastly different between Netscape or IE as well as from Mac to PC and from connection to connection. All I can say is that it is good to have recent versions of browsers and expect that it will not always work the way you want. We are here to help you figure out the problem if we can, so don't be afraid to ask.

If anyone becomes abusive they can and will be banned from the bboard. Now, that does not mean people can't have disagreements here or discussions or even arguments. But, the minute it degenerates to name calling and swearing, you will get no notice. You will be deleted from the member list and banned from the site. To Message Boards. Back to top

Can I use your story for my college/work report?
Yes, you can. I would appreciate an email letting me know the details before you start. When quoting the source reference please use the following URL www.spinal-injury.netBack to top
 

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Spinal-Injury.net :  Spinal Cord Injury FAQ'S


 

 
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