Acute spinal cord injury

Acute spinal cord injury

Last Reviewed : 12/23/2020
Acute spinal cord injury

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that causes changes in its function, either temporary or permanent. These changes translate into loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function in parts of the body served by the spinal cord below the level of the lesion. Injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord and can be classified as complete injury, a total loss of sensation and muscle function, or incomplete, meaning some nervous signals are able to travel past the injured area of the cord. Depending on the location and severity of damage along the spinal cord, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain or numbness to paralysis to incontinence. The prognosis also ranges widely, from full recovery in rare cases to permanent tetraplegia (also called quadriplegia) in injuries at the level of the neck, and paraplegia in lower injuries. Complications that can occur in the short and long term after injury include muscle atrophy, pressure sores, infections, and respiratory problems.

In the majority of cases the damage results from physical trauma such as car accidents, gunshots, falls, or sports injuries, but it can also result from non traumatic causes such as infection, insufficient blood flow, and tumors. Efforts to prevent SCI include individual measures such as using safety equipment, societal measures such as safety regulations in sports and traffic, and improvements to equipment. Known since ancient times to be a catastrophic injury and long believed to be untreatable, SCI has seen great improvements in its care since the middle of the 20th century. Treatment of spinal cord injuries starts with stabilizing the spine and controlling inflammation to prevent further damage. Other interventions needed can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the injury, from bed rest to surgery. In many cases, spinal cord injuries require substantial, long-term physical and occupational therapy in rehabilitation, especially if they interfere with activities of daily living. Research into new treatments for spinal cord injuries includes stem cell implantation, engineered materials for tissue support, and wearable robotic exoskeletons.


We researched this topic for you and found the following best online resources. They are categorized into basic, advanced, and research level based on the extent of information you need. You will be taken to the respective websites by pressing on the links below.


Basic Information:,P00770/ JOHN HOPKINS MEDICINE Acute Spinal Cord Injury MAYO CLINIC Acute Spinal Cord Injury LIFE IN THE FAST LANE Acute Spinal Cord Injury UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER Acute Spinal Cord Injury What Is an Acute Spinal Cord Injury?


Advanced Information: MEDSCAPE Spinal Cord Injuries Treatment & Management Spinal Injuries Steroids in Acute Spinal Cord Injury PATIENT Spinal Cord Injury and Compression RADIOPEDIA Traumatic spinal cord injury


Research: Zhu L, Wu G, Zhou X, Li J, Wen Z, Lin F(2015) Altered Spontaneous Brain Activity in Patients with Acute Spinal Cord Injury Revealed by RestingState Functional MRI. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0118816. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118816 Mengxuan Du, Rongliang Chen, Renfu Quan, et al., “A Brief Analysis of Traditional Chinese Medical Elongated Needle Therapy on Acute Spinal Cord Injury and Its Mechanism,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 828754, 7 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/828754 Cigognini D, Satta A, Colleoni B, Silva D, Donega` M, et al. (2011) Evaluation of Early and Late Effects into the Acute Spinal Cord Injury of an Injectable Functionalized Self-Assembling Scaffold. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19782. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019782

Bowers CA, Kundu B, Hawryluk GW. Methylprednisolone for acute spinal cord injury: an increasingly philosophical debate. Neural Regen Res [serial online] 2016 [cited 2016 Dec 18];11:882-5. Available from:

Garber S, Hawryluk G. Provision of nutrients after acute spinal cord injury: the implications of feast and famine. Neural Regen Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2016 Dec 18];10:1061-2. Available from:

Jia Zq, Li G, Zhang Zy, Li Ht, Wang Jq, Fan Zk, Lv G. Time representation of mitochondrial morphology and function after acute spinal cord injury. Neural Regen Res [serial online] 2016 [cited 2016 Dec 18];11:137-43. Available from:

Saraf SK, Rana RJ, Sharma OP. Venous thromboembolism in acute spinal cord injury patients. Indian J Orthop [serial online] 2007 [cited 2016 Dec 18];41:194-7. Available from:

Wang Jl, Zhang Qs, Zhu Kd, Sun Jf, Zhang Zp, Sun Jw, Zhang Kx. Hydrogen-rich saline injection into the subarachnoid cavity within 2 weeks promotes recovery after acute spinal cord injury. Neural Regen Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2016 Dec 18];10:958-64. Available from: Batchelor PE, Wills TE, Skeers P, Battistuzzo CR, Macleod MR, et al. (2013) Meta-Analysis of Pre-Clinical Studies of Early Decompression in Acute Spinal Cord Injury: A Battle of Time and Pressure. PLoS ONE 8(8): e72659. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072659 OPINION ARTICLE Front. Neurol., 05 February 2013 | Using recombinant Rho protein antagonist in acute spinal cord injury; does this go further from conventional decompressions? By Nima Hafezi-Nejad and Vafa Rahimi-Movaghar Zifeng Zhang, Zheng Huang, Hao Dai, Licheng Wei, Songtao Sun, and Feng Gao, “Therapeutic Efficacy of E-64-d, a Selective Calpain Inhibitor, in Experimental Acute Spinal Cord Injury,” BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, Article ID 134242, 10 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/134242 Early Acute Management in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury: A Clinical Practice Guideline for Health-Care Professionals. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. 2008;31(4):403-479. doi:10.1043/1079-0268-31.4.408.


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