A spinal cord injury (SCI) is the occurrence of an acute traumatic damage to the spinal cord or nerves roots within the spinal column, including the cauda equina, that results in temporary or permanent loss of movement (motor function), sensation (sensory function), and bodily systems (autonomic functions). Diagram

Higher levels of injuries typically result in a greater loss of function when compared to injuries at lower levels of the spinal cord. For example, people with tetraplegia have greater loss of function than people with paraplegia.

See Resources
Understanding Spinal Cord Injury: Part 1 - The Body Before and After Injury (PDF) (en español)
This fact sheet is intended to be a starting point for understanding the normal functions of the spinal cord and how those functions might change after spinal cord injury. This and other fact sheets from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center provide useful health information that is based on research evidence and/or professional consensus and has been reviewed and approved by the SCI Model Systems editorial team of experts.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury: Part 2 - Recovery and Rehabilitation (PDF) (en español)
Recovery and Rehabilitation is important to returning to functioning back to normal. There is no cure for SCI but you can learn the potential areas for improvement. This and other fact sheets from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center provide useful health information that is based on research evidence and/or professional consensus and has been reviewed and approved by the SCI Model Systems editorial team of experts.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury: What you should know about spinal cord injury and recovery
This video uses simple language and images of real people who have sustained a spinal cord injury, as well as medical experts and advocates. Produced by Shepherd Center and KPKinteractive in collaboration with the American Trauma Society, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Understanding Spinal Cord Impairments and Functional Goals
This 26 minute video offers a basic understanding of the normal function of the spinal cord and the impact of impairment at different types and levels of injury. In addition, functional goals are addressed for levels of impairment. This video 1 in an 11-part video series provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System (UAB-SCIMS).

Spinal Cord Injury
A chapter from the Spinal Cord Injury Patient – Family Teaching Manual published by the Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley (RSCICDV) at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. Spanish

Spinal Cord Injury Manual for Patients and Families
An online resource of information on SCI health, rehabilitation, and support. The information is provided by the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami School of Medicine (UMSM) and related organizations.