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 -
Types of Incomplete
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.
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
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
Incomplete Paraplegia -
Incomplete Tetraplegia -
Causes of SCI -