Understanding spinal cord injury

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is when damage to the spinal cord results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling. Injury to the spinal cord can causes loss of function of the nerves, limbs and/or organs below the site of the injury. The injury usually occurs as a result of a trauma such as a fall or car accident, medical condition such as spina bifida, stroke or Friedreich’s Ataxia, or as a result of other back and spine conditions.

Major spinal cord injuries present in two forms:

  • Quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia) is loss of function below the neck
  • Paraplegia is loss of function below the chest

The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of functioning to occur. In fact, in most people with spinal cord injury, the spinal cord is intact, with the damage occurring due to compression or bruising. Some recovery of feeling and movement may return after the injury but how much depends on the level of injury, the strength of your muscles, and whether the injury is complete or incomplete.

If you, or someone you know, has recently suffered a spinal cord injury, we recommend speaking to the hospital about having the following in your discharge plan:

  • List of equipment needs
  • Finalised care plan
  • Your goals and objectives
  • List of immediate home modifications required
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan in place

We also recommend you secure care services to provide personal care support when you return home if necessary. Some other products you may need to consider include:

  • Mobility aids (i.e. crutches and orthotics)
  • Most appropriate wheelchair/s
  • Adequate continence needs alongside a bowel and bladder plan
  • Bathroom mobility aids (i.e. commode, shower chair or stool)
  • Home modifications (i.e. ramps, grab rails, handheld shower heads)
  • Portable or roof mounted hoists
  • Correct bed and mattress
  • Assistive technology (i.e. smart drive, free wheels, lights and security automation)
  • Modified kitchen utensils


Spinal Cord Injuries Australia

Contact us today

Give us a call on 1800 275 753 to discuss your support needs with our Allied Health team, or send an online enquiry and we'll be in touch.

Call CPL


How can CPL help?

Allied Health therapies 

If you have been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, CPL's Allied Health specialists can organise an appointment to assess your needs. Therapies can include occupational, physiotherapy, speech and social work. You can make an appointment by calling 1800 275 753.

Finding the right equipment and aids

When you make an appointment to see a CPL Allied Health therapist they will work with you to find the equipment that suits you best.

Independent living

CPL provides 24/7 Supported Independent Living services, and has a number of vacancies in accessible homes.

Employment and Training opportunities

There are a range of disability employment and training pathways for people with a spinal injury designed to help you reach your goals.