Spinal Cord Issue

Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is one of the most complex and important parts of the body. The spinal cord is responsible for carrying messages to and from all parts of the body and the brain. Some of these messages control sensation, such as knowing that your finger is touching a hot stove. Other messages regulate movement. If you want to walk forward, your brain sends a signal to the appropriate muscles and you are able to move. The spinal cord also carries messages that regulate autonomic function - activities such as temperature control and breathing - over which we generally do not exert voluntary control.

When a spinal cord injury occurs, the ability to get messages back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body is grossly interrupted. A message sent by the brain to your leg, for example, will never reach the leg because the circuitry intended to carry that the message, the spinal cord, has been disrupted by the injury. Autonomic functions below the level of injury, such as bowel and bladder control, also cease to work properly because the "control center," the brain, cannot get messages through to those organs to tell them what to do.