Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Some Information about SCI
Every day more than 30 people in the United
States become paralyzed from spinal cord
injury or disease. Spinal cord injury (SCI)
is damage to the spinal cord that results in a
loss of function such as mobility or feeling.
Motor vehicle crashes top the list of SCI
causes, followed by acts of violence, falls,
and sports. Most injuries occur in people
30 years old or younger, and the majority
of injuries occur in men.
SCI generally results in one of two types of
paralysis. Quadriplegia affects the neck and
chest, and everything below. It involves loss
of function in both the arms and the legs.
Paraplegia affects the legs and lower part of
the body. Effects of SCI depend on the
level of injury (the higher the injury, the more
function loss), and whether the injury is complete
or incomplete. A person with a complete injury
means that there is no function below the level
of injury. An incomplete injury means that there
is some funtioning below the primary level of the
injury. With advances in acute treatment of SCI,
incomplete injuries are becoming more common.
Which leads me to common misconception #1 :
If a person with a SCI works hard enough, they
will be able to walk again. Not true! In my case, I
have a complete injury which means messages that go
from my brain, through my spinal cord, and to other
parts of my body, don't go through. It doesn't matter
how hard I work or concentrate, my cord has been so
severly damaged that the message do not go through.
I promise you, I am not sitting in this wheelchair
because I'm lazy.
Common Misconception #2:
A person with SCI has a severed spinal cord.
Not true! In fact, in most people with SCI, the spinal
cord is intact, but the damage to it results in loss of
functioning. In my case, being thrown from the car
and landing on the road caused me to break my
4th and 5th Thoracic Vertebrae. I actually wasn't
paralyzed until hours after the accident. I was even
walking around at the scene of the accident. My
only obvious injury was a broken arm. The broken
vertebrae caused swelling, and the swelling is what
crushed my spinal cord, doing irreparable damage.
In most cases though, the damage begins at the
moment of injury when displaced bone fragments,
disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal
cord tissue. Again, most injuries to the spinal cord
don't completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more
likely to cause fractures and compression of the
vertebrae, which then crush and destroy the axons,
extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and
down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest
of the body. An injury to the spinal cord can damage
a few, many, or almost all of these axons. Some
injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others
will result in complete paralysis.
Common misconception #3:
People with SCI don't have normal relationships.
Not true! The picture I am posting today is of me and
my daughter when she was a baby. People with SCI
can and do have loving relationships. Women with
SCI are able to give birth to normal, healthy children.