What is an acute spinal cord injury?
It is a very serious (acute) injury of the spinal cord that is caused by bruising, partially tearing or severing the spinal cord. It is one of the most common causes of loss of feeling and movement, and permanent disability; very serious cases are often fatal. A spinal cord injury can cause paralysis (inability to move).
The spine is made up of a long series of bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae form a canal that protect the spinal cord and nerves. The spinal cord and nerves extend the length of the spinal canal. Nerves carry messages between the brain and body, allowing movement and sensations. If the spine is bent, compressed or damaged by injury, it can injure or sever the nerves that transmit messages to the brain.
How serious is an acute spinal cord injury?
It is a medical emergency needing immediate attention. The injury can cause permanent disability or death. There is no way to repair the damage caused by a serious trauma to the spinal cord. Some patients recover some function over time with good physical and occupational therapy. Most patients have long-term problems with mobility and overall health.