Spinal cord injury is classified by the level and severity of the lesion. There are typically two types of lesions associated with a spinal cord injury which include complete spinal cord injury and incomplete spinal cord injury.

A person affected by complete spinal cord injury will have paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of injury while an incomplete spinal cord injury will affect different parts of the body depending on the level of injury.

The most common causes of damage to the spinal cord are trauma which includes:-

• Road traffic accidents
• Sports injuries
• Domestic injuries

Common symptoms associated with spinal cord injury:

• Problems with bowel and bladder function,
• Respiratory difficulties,
• Loss of sexual dysfunction,
• Spasticity (increased reflexes and stiffness of the limbs),
• Neuropathic pain,
• Muscle wasting and weakness

Physiotherapy for a complete spinal cord injury

Physiotherapy for people with spinal cord injury will concentrate on maintaining tissue capability increasing muscle strength and maximizing potential and promoting independence. Treatment will focus on:
• Reducing pain and muscle spasms
• Increasing strength of the muscle above the level of injury
• Maintaining muscle length and range of movement below the level of injury
• Muscle stretching below the level of injury
• Exercises to improve balance and confidence
• Increasing control of movement of the arms, legs and trunk
• Promoting activities of daily living
• Mobilization exercises to improve circulation and range of movement
• Promoting independence
• Improving quality of life