Spinal cord injury is devastating, not only for the injured person but for families and friends as well. While much information is available on the Internet, most of the material is scattered and out of date. This article summarizes answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by people who are encountering spinal cord injury for the first time. Spinal cord injury disconnects the brain from the body. This leads not only to loss of sensation and motor control below the injury site but may be associated with abnormal activities of the spinal cord both above and below the injury site resulting in spasticity, neuropathic pain, and autonomic dysreflexia. Many functions of our body that we take for granted, such as going to the bathroom, sexual function, blood pressure and heart rate, digestion, temperature control, sweating and other autonomic functions may not only be lost but may be abnormally active.
Finally, contrary to popular notions about spinal cord injury, recovery is the rule and not the exception in spinal cord injury. The recovery takes a long time and may be slowed down or blocked by the muscle atrophy and learned non-use. Yet, there is hope. Many therapies have been shown to regenerate and remyelinate the spinal cord. Some of these are now in clinical trials and many more should be in clinical trial soon.
For Friends and Family of the Newly Injured Topic List