What is spinal cord injury (SCI)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS, FAANS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Spinal cord injury (SCI) is an insult to the spinal cord resulting in a change, either temporary or permanent, in its normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function. Patients with spinal cord injury usually have permanent and often devastating neurologic deficits and disability. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "among neurological disorders, the cost to society of automotive SCI is exceeded only by the cost of mental retardation." [6]

After a suspected SCI, the goals are to establish the diagnosis and initiate treatment to prevent further neurologic injury from either mechanical instability secondary to injury from the deleterious effects of cardiovascular instability or respiratory insufficiency.

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