Why is it important to know the difference between a “complete” and “incomplete” spinal cord injury?

It is important to know if the injury is complete or incomplete because the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale is currently the best known indicator of what to expect in recovery of function from injury.

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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).

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).

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.