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The spinal cord serves not just one critical function, but several. A compact but extremely powerful package of nerves, it works with the brain to transmit important messages that are responsible for functions in every area of the body.
Because the spinal cord plays such an essential role, any injury has the potential for widespread and serious damage. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can occur as:
To understand how and why spinal cord injuries have different effects on different parts of the body, it’s helpful to understand the anatomy of the surrounding area. The spinal cord is divided into sections that correspond with the neighboring bones of the spine:
Typically, the higher the location of the injury, the more significant the resulting damage. Serious SCIs are categorized as either paraplegic—resulting in a loss of sensation and function in the lower half of the body—or quadriplegic/tetraplegic, resulting in a loss of feeling and movement from the chest down, including both arms and both legs.
In addition, SCIs can be:
Here are some of the statistics on spinal cord injuries:
While treatment options depend on the specifics and severity of the particular injury, you can rest assured that Children’s Hospital Boston has the world-renowned expertise and state-of-the-art tools to give you, your child and your family the care you need.
How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches spinal cord injuries
Learning that your child has a spinal cord injury is a frightening and potentially life-changing moment for any parent. Children’s Hospital Boston is here to work with you, your child and your family through every moment of your journey.
Children’s Spinal Program is acclaimed both nationally and internationally for our excellence in diagnosing, treating and managing spinal cord injuries in children of all ages. In fact, our program:
Working together, our clinicians will develop a customized treatment plan that meets your child's medical, emotional and practical needs—and involves you and your family at every step of the way.
It’s a sad fact that injury is the number one cause of death and disability among children in the United States. Fortunately, most childhood injuries are preventable. Here at the Injury Prevention Program at Boston Children's Hospital, we’re committed to drastically decreasing the number of preventable injuries through education efforts and research. Learn more.
Spinal cord injury: Reviewed by Mark R. Proctor, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2011
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