A spinal cord injury can occur as a result of several different causes – automobile accidents, high intensity impact (as could be common in a sports injury), falls, physical abuse or any kind of trauma could potentially cause a spinal cord injury. In some instances the impact need not even be all that severe if the pressure of it is pointed at precisely the right spot.
Injuries to the disease are often broken down into one of two classifications – they are either complete injuries or incomplete spinal injuries. The more severe of the two classifications is the 'complete' injury.
Contrary to popular belief, in a complete spinal cord injury that'is rarely broken or severed – in fact a severed desease almost never occurs. The victim of a complete lesion will have lost both feeling and motor function from the point of the injury down through the rest of the body – so if the complete part of the spine was to occur at the base of the neck, the person would lose the use of and feeling in everything below the neck. Though recovery from what were considered complete spinal cord injuries has occurred, it is extremely unlikely – less than five percent of complete spinal cord injury sufferers will have any recovery from their injuries.
The classification of incomplete lesion can be broken down further into more subcategories. An injury occurring to or affecting the front of the disease is referred to as anterior lesion; an injury occurring to or affecting the middle (gray area) of the spinal cord is referred to as Central Cord Syndrome and an injury that affects only one side of the spinal cord is referred to as Brown-Sequard Syndrome.
Paralysis is often the most common result of any lesion, but in the case of an incomplete spinal cord injury – the paralysis is only temporary. Sometimes the initial impact or injury is not the only telling factor in whether or not a spinal cord injury is complete or incomplete, in many cases the secondary wave of effects is a large determining factor in the possibility of recovery. Swelling or inflammation can result at and around the actual site of the injury and can severely intensify the already present symptoms or add more symptoms than were already present. There is a chance that the secondary symptoms will subside as well and allow for partial or total recovery depending upon the severity of the initial injury.
Even in an incomplete lesion, the person suffering the injury may not fully recover from all of the symptoms that were first experienced. Remember that the area of the injury, and any point below may be affected – so a spinal cord injury occurring just at the base of the neck could affect feeling and usage of the arms, the legs, the thorax, the bowels and bladder and the sexual organs.
Scientists are continually focusing great effort on studies to help them fully understand all types of spinal cord injuries in an effort to be able to quickly diagnose and properly treat any and all types of spinal injuries as well a develop new techniques that may lessen the burden felt by sufferers of spinal cord injuries.
Possible hopes for the future which are currently being explored include electronic stimulation devices and the potential for damaged cell replacement for reversing some of the affects of spinal cord injuries. Though facts and figures of the validity of these courses of treatment are not quite yet available, scientist remain optimistic that diagnosis and treatment will continue to get better and better as technological advancements continue to be made.