Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - What Happens
Classifying a spinal cord injury continued...
Damage to the spinal cord can be complete or incomplete.
- In a complete SCI, you do not have feeling or voluntary movement of the areas
of your body that are controlled by your lowest sacral nerves—S4 and S5. These
nerves control feeling and movement of your
- In an incomplete SCI, you have varying
amounts of movement and feeling of the areas of your body controlled by the
Some recovery of feeling and
movement may return after the injury—how much depends on the level of injury,
the strength of your muscles, and whether the injury is complete or incomplete.
Most recovery occurs within the first 6 months of the injury.
For the family and caregivers
After a traumatic
SCI, your loved ones will often ask questions about the injury and what it
means. Keep your answers short,
simple, and honest. You cannot give a complete answer, because it's often
hard to know how serious the injury is and how much you will recover. This typically is not known until swelling and bleeding
are reduced and the doctors can find out where the spinal cord has been
Moving into rehab
treatment and stabilization, you will move into rehab. A rehab center
helps you adjust to life, both physically and emotionally. The goal of rehab is to help you be as independent as
Your rehab depends on your
level of injury. You may have to learn how to manage your bowel and bladder,
walk with crutches, do breathing exercises, and move between a wheelchair and