Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
The spinal cord is situated within the spinal column. It extends down from the brain to the L1−L2 vertebral level, ending in the conus medullaris. Continuing from the end of the spinal cord, in the spinal canal, is the cauda equina (or “horse’s tail”). The spinal cord itself has neurological segmental levels that correspond to the nerve roots that exit the spinal column between each of the vertebrae.
There are 31 pairs of spinal nerve roots: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral and 1 coccygeal. Owing to the difference in length between the spinal column and the spinal cord, the neurological levels do not necessarily correspond to the vertebral segments.
Damage to the spinal cord may be:
- Traumatic SCI can result from many different causes – including falls, road traffic injuries, occupational and sports injuries, and violence.
- Non-traumatic SCI, usually involves an underlying pathology – such as infectious disease, tumor, musculoskeletal disease such as osteoarthritis, and congenital problems.