What recovery is expected following spinal cord injury?

Although research for a cure to SCI is encouraging, there is currently no proven way to fully restore function following SCI, but this fact does not necessarily mean there is no chance for recovery of function. In fact, there is no proven way to predict recovery with 100% accuracy.

Recovery predictions are based on whether injuries are classified as complete or incomplete using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale. Most people classified as having a complete injury do not fully recovery more than 1 to 2 levels of function beyond their initial level of injury. When compared to people with complete injuries, people with incomplete injuries have a greater likelihood for recovery of function. The extent of that recovery is impossible to predict, so people with incomplete injuries may recovery no function, some function, or all function.

See Resources
Expected Outcomes C1-3: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes C4: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes C5: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes C6: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes C7-8: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes L2-S5: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes T1-9: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

Expected Outcomes T10-L1: What You Should Know (PDF)
This consumer guide is published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine.

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).

First Days After SCI
Watch a collection of videos from FacingDisability.com, a first-of-its-kind Internet-based effort created to connect families who suddenly have to deal with a spinal cord injury with people like them who have already “been there” and “done that.”

Survive, Subsist, Succeed: Spinal Cord Injury Outcomes
This is an educational video program of a forum for persons with SCI and their friends, family members and caregivers. Forums are offered by the Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System (NWRSCIS). Presented on May 20, 2010.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury & Functional Goals - Basic (PDF)
An elementary overview of the changes to a normal spinal cord following SCI and one's realistic expectations regarding functional goals and outcomes. Includes illustrations of the spinal cord and the levels of injury and a chart of levels/abilities and goals. This and other InfoSheets are provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System (UAB-SCIMS).

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury & Functional Goals and Outcomes (PDF)
In addition to providing a realistic expectation of what one can expect regarding functional goals and outcomes, this InfoSheet offers a concise summary of the anatomy and physiology of a spinal cord injury. Describes the neurological and functional classification of SCI as well as expected functional outcomes. Includes illustrations, chart and means of assessing levels of injury, abilities and functional goals. This and other InfoSheets are provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System (UAB-SCIMS).