What is a spinal cord injury?

Types of SCI_image

What is a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord that causes a temporary or permanent change in function.

In most cases, paralysis is caused by acute damage to the spinal cord following a traumatic injury. Nerve fibres are disrupted and nerve cells at, and around, the site of injury are destroyed.

An injury of the spinal cord not only impacts the ability to move your limbs; the damage also causes a large number of secondary health complications.

More than being paralysed

Living with a spinal cord injury is much more than being paralysed

People with spinal cord injury face many challenging secondary health complications that diminish quality of life and capacity for independence.

Secondary health implications may include:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Blood pressure fluctuations
  • Recurrent bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Reduced sexual function
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Pressure sores
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Nerve sensitivity and neuropathic pain
  • Diminished mental health

Social marginalisation may include:

  • Inaccessible public spaces, housing and workplaces
  • Social and cultural barriers which limit opportunities for community participation on an equal basis with other citizens
Lady in wheelchair talking to boy

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