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Understanding Spinal Cord (Spine) Injury

The Human Spine or Spinal cord has an average length of 43 to 45 cm long and composed of billions of nerve cells. It is actually an extension of the brain and contains nerve cells, called neurons, and bundles of nerve fiber that carry signals to and from the brain. These messages help us to move our body, feel pressure and control vital functions like breathing, blood pressure, bladder and bowels. The majority of spinal cord injuries are due to preventable causes such as falls, road traffic accidents or sports injury. Common causes of spinal cord injury:

41.7% - Fall

36.8% - Road accidents

11.6% - Sports related

4.2% - Lifting / Improper posture

3.3% - Trauma

2.7% - Assault

Doctors classify injuries as either complete or incomplete. In a complete injury, the spinal cord is sufficiently damaged across the whole of its width that there is complete loss of sensation and muscle control below the level of injury.

In an incomplete injury, the injury spreads across part of the spinal cord; some areas away from the injury remain intact or at least intact enough to retain some function. People with incomplete injuries can have some sensation and/or movement control below the level of injury.

After your initial injury you are likely to be in hospital for a period of three to nine months, depending on your level of injury, to recover and rehabilitate. It is not possible to be exact with the length of time, as it will vary according to your individual needs. Although spinal cord injury may disrupt the plans and activities you had, life does go on and it can be as rich and fulfilling as before.

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