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.

Facts about spinal cord injury

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.

Things to consider if you have a spinal cord injury

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

How can CPL help?

No matter where you are on your journey, we are ready to help you achieve your goals. Our services aim to support people to reach their full potential through:  

For more information about how we can support you with a spinal cord injury, visit our services page, call us on 1800 961 870 or send an online enquiry

References:
https://scia.org.au/