Spinal cord injuries are caused by a number of traumas to the spine. Anything from a car accident, fall, sporting injury, or assault can cause this type of injury. Minor trauma can also cause an injury to the spinal cord if the spine is already weakened. Direct injury can occur to the spinal cord, especially if the bones or the disks surrounding the cord have been damaged. Additionally, if the spine is broken, bone fragments can damage the spinal cord or if a person was in a car accident, metal fragments can cut the spinal cord.
Most spinal cord injuries occur in young, healthy individuals. Men ranging from 15-35 are the most affected, but the death rate is typically higher in younger children. Older people with Osteoporosis, especially those who are prone to falling or clumsiness, may be more susceptible to injuries to the spinal cord.
Paralysis or loss of sensation is a common side effect to an injury of this magnitude. The level of injury depends on the likelihood of a serious side effect, such as death if the breathing muscles become paralyzed or permanent paralysis. Injuries closer to the top of the spine are more likely to cause more serious side effects than those that are lower in the spine.
Recovery of some movement within one week of the injury is a good sign of recovering some or all functions, but it is possible that this could take up to six months. Losses that remain after six months are more likely to remain permanent.