Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury (SCI) can occur when there is damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves located at the end of the spinal canal. SCI can often cause permanent impairment in strength, sensation and the ability to use other body portions below the injury. At Delray Medical Center we offer some of the latest treatments and specialized rehabilitation care for spinal cord injury.

How do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?

A spinal cord injury can occur when one or more vertebrae are fractured, compressed or crushed due to a sudden impact or blow to the spine. Bleeding, swelling, inflammation and fluid accumulation near or around the spinal cord can also cause a spinal cord injury. Other causes of a SCI are arthritis, cancer, inflammation, infections or disk degeneration within the spine.

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may include:

  • Problems or difficulty breathing or coughing and clearing mucus
  • Spasms
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch to affected areas
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Intense stinging sensation or pain caused by damage to nerve fibers

 A spinal cord injury can be divided into two main types of injury:

  • Complete injury. Complete injury means that there is no function below the level of the injury, neither sensation or movement, and both sides of the body are equally affected.
  • Incomplete injury. Incomplete injury means that there is some function below the level of the injury such as movement in one limb more than the other, feeling in parts of the body or more function on one side of the body than the other.

    A spinal cord injury is classified according to the person’s type of loss of motor and sensory function. The main types of classifications are:

  • Quadriplegia Involves loss of movement and sensation in all four limbs.
  • Triplegia Involves the loss of movement and sensation in one arm and both legs and usually results from incomplete spinal cord injury.
  • Paraplegia Involves loss of movement and sensation in the lower half of the body only.