Clinical Specialties : The Spine Institute

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord trauma is damage to the spinal cord. It may result from direct injury to the cord itself or indirectly from damage to surrounding bones, tissues, or blood vessels.

Cervical (Neck) Injuries
Thoracic (Chest-Level) Injuries
Lumbar Sacral (Lower-Back) Injuries


  • Breathing difficulties (from paralysis of the breathing muscles)
  • Loss of normal bowel and bladder control (may include constipation, incontinence, bladder spasms)
  • Numbness
  • Sensory changes
  • Spasticity (increased muscle tone)
  • Pain
  • Weakness, paralysis
  • Breathing difficulties (from paralysis of the breathing muscles)

A spinal cord trauma requires immediate treatment to reduce the long-term effects. The time between the injury and treatment is a critical factor affecting the eventual outcome.

If spinal cord compression is caused by a mass (such as a hematoma or bony fragment) that can be removed or brought down before there is total destruction of the nerves of the spine, paralysis may in some cases be reduced or relieved.

Hypothermia for spinal cord injury is a novel and unique treatment option that is undergoing intensive research investigation at the University of Miami.

Surgery may often be necessary. This may include surgery to remove fluid or tissue that presses on the spinal cord or to remove bone fragments, disk fragments, or foreign objects or to stabilize fractured vertebrae.

Extensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation interventions are often required after the acute injury has healed. Rehabilitation assists the person in coping with a disability resulting from spinal cord trauma.