Medical Social Work
Rehabilitation Management, LLC
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
A spinal cord Injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that produces a loss of function
or feeling.  Some of the more common causes of SCI are Auto Accidents, Sports
Related Accidents, Violence and Falls.  There are two types of SCI, Complete Spinal
Cord Injury and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury.  Complete spinal cord injuries result in
complete loss of feeling and function below the injury.  Incomplete spinal cord injuries
result in partial loss, meaning that there is some functioning below the injury.  The
spinal cord does not have to be completely severed to incur loss of function.
After the Injury:
Learning how to cope with the changes will take time.  The cost of living with a spinal
cord injury is staggering and economic assistance should be explored through local,
state or federal government programs as well as charitable organizations.

It is important to surround yourself with a support system.  Education and
communication about your specific injury and expectations for your future are very
important.  It is also important for you to communicate openly and honestly with your
family, friends, caregivers and medical staff.  Family and friends may be uncertain how
to approach you, they may try to help you with every little thing or may be uncertain if help
is really what you want or need.

Advances in technology as well as adaptive equipment
have enabled companies to help you live a normal and full life.
People with spinal cord injury have been known to get married,
have children, go to school and work and live an independent life.
Diagnosis:
The diagnosis of SCI is made with a physical examination and medical history and
inquires as to how the injury occurred.  Trauma to the spinal cord can cause
neurological problems which will require further follow-up.

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood Tests
  • X-Rray - A picture that shows if bones are broken or fractured.
  • CT (CAT) Scan - produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both
    horizontally and vertically, of the body.  A CT scan shows detailed images of any
    part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs.  CT scans are
    more detailed including the bones, muscles, fat and organs.  CT scans are
    more detailed than general x-rays.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A diagnostic procedure that uses a
    combination of large magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce
    detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
Cervical (neck) injuries usually result in
quadriplegia.

Injuries above the C-4 level may require a
ventilator for breathing.  

C-5 injuries often result in shoulder and biceps
control but no control at the wrist or hand.

C-6 injuries generally maintain wrist control, but
no hand function.

C-7 and T-1 injuries can straighten their arms
but still may have dexterity problems with the
hand and fingers.

Injuries at the Thoracic level and below typically
result in paraplegia.

At T-1 to T-8 there is most often control of the
hands, but poor trunk control due to lack of
abdominal muscle control.  

Other complications of SCI may include sexual
dysfunction, infertility, loss of bladder or bowel
control, and inability to breathe independently.  
Other effects of SCI may include low blood
pressure or inability to regulate pressure,
inability to control body temperature, inability to
seat below the injury and chronic pain.  Some
individuals with SCI may suffer from Urinary Tract
Problems (including increased UTIs); Pressure
Sores; Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary
Embolism; Lung and Breathing Problems:
Autonomic Dysreflexia: Spasticity and Weight
Control Issues.
Types of Injuries
Medical Social Work Rehabilitation
Management, LLC.
1733
2 Farmington Rd.
Livonia, MI 48152
Ph: 734-513-4100
Fax: 734-513-0900