term spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when there is damage or
trauma (lesion) to the spinal cord itself or to the vertebral
column, this can also include a number of diseases such as Transverse
Myelitis, Polio and Spina Bifida.
The injury disrupts nerve transmission resulting in impaired
or loss of function leading to a reduction in mobility, sensation
and reflex activity below the level of injury. The most common
types of SCI include contusions (bruising), compressions, lacerations
and central cord syndrome (specific damage to the nerve tracts
of the cervical region of the cord). The majority of traumas
leading to broken backs, necks or vertebral fractures do not
cause spinal cord damage, spinal cord damage occurs in 10-14%
Dependent on the level of the lesion the resulting paralysis
is known as either paraplegia (if lesion occurs in either the
thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions) or tetraplegia, also known
as quadriplegia, if it involves the cervical region. The injury is also described as “complete” or “incomplete”.
Complete injuries result in a total loss of function and sensation
below the level of injury; incomplete, the patient may have sensation
but little or no movement or viceversa. Complete does not necessarily
mean that the cord has been severed.
Since 1990, in order of frequency, the most common neurological
categories are - tetraplegia, incomplete (31%); paraplegia, complete (28.2%); paraplegia, incomplete (23.1%)
and tetraplegia, complete (17.5%). There appears to be a trend
of increase in paraplegia incomplete and decrease in tetraplegia
Spinal cord injury can occur at any level; or at multiple levels,
but the structure and architecture of the spine leads to levels
that are more prone to be the site of injury. The most common
levels are that of C-4, C-5 and C-6 followed by T-12 and C-7.
It is estimated that there are approximately 40,000 people living
with the effects of a SCI in the UK. An epidemiological survey
in London and the south-east of England suggests that the annual incidence is 3 new people per 100,000 population, other studies
report rates of 1.3-5 per 100,000. The most common causes of
SCI in the UK and Ireland in the year 2000 were - falls (42%),
road traffic accidents (37%), sports (12%), trauma/assault (6%)
and other causes (3%).
The highest numbers of people suffering injuries fall into the
16-30 year age group (56%); males suffer the majority of SCI's
at approximately 80%. The average age at SCI is around 31 years
HISTORY: Spinal cord injury diagnosed in 1986. Clarence experienced severe spasticity and spasms as a result of the SCI.
OUTCOME AFTER RECEIVING ITB THERAPY: Spasticity, spasms, and the related pain significantly reduced; independent living; participates in sports and other activities; enjoys travelling.
COMMENT: “I have told so many people about this pump, about how vital it is for a person with severe spasticity. The pump has meant everything for me.”