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Severed cord

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    Severed cord

    If the spinal cord is severed 75%, does that significantly reduce the chance of return?

    Unfortunately, it is not an exact science. 75 percent, it doesn't sound like a good number but some spinal cords are never severed at all but just bruised. But just than injury can cause total paralysis due to swelling etc....Others spinal cords appear to be severed but some function/feeling is returned.

    My best advise is that you need to have three plans for:- 1. If you stay the way you are without any further return of function or feeling- make the most of your acute and rehab care. Build up the muscles you can use and get adaptive equipment or whatever you need to do and accomplish whatever you can.
    2. You get some function back but right now we can't predict what or when. It might be a very long road. Same advise from #1.
    3. You get all return function back- sounds great.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


      i would think so

      My brother had his spine 100% severed and has had no return. It has been 4 months. I would guess that having 25% still in tact would mean that their is some recovery no doubt about it. Their must be some swelling and bruising going on in that area. hopefully it will get better.

      And the way i see it in my head is, atleast their is something still attached. Like, the nerves have a chance in reconnecting maybe. I'm not doctor, but that just seems logical.


        i had mine 75-100% severed. It's been 1 1/2 years. NO real recovery at all. One of my abdominals i can flex. It's not a strong one. But that's it. At least you won't have as much nerve pain when you get the cord chopped.


          In studies, rats can walk with only 10% of their spinal cord intact. Those darn rats, you can't keep them down LOL.

          I advise you not to get too hung up on the numbers. 25% is better than none, for sure. His return or lack thereof will depend on which 25% got spared. Like SCI Nurse said, sometimes damage from swelling etc. makes the injury worse than what would be expected. And we all know somebody who recovered much more than the doctors predicted.

          Time and hard work, keep saying it.

          Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and work work work.

          Just call me "Cliche Lady".
          Does This Wheelchair Make My Ass Look Fat?


            If you don't mind sharing--how was your spinal cord 75% severed? Is that the canal compromise from the CT scan? or some other figure?


              Don't know what percentage but my spinal cord is severed. I am three years and eight months post injury and I have absolutely no return. How great for me! It really blows to see other people get return and I get absolutely nothing. Yes I'm sour.


                Originally posted by kkmay
                Don't know what percentage but my spinal cord is severed. I am three years and eight months post injury and I have absolutely no return. How great for me! It really blows to see other people get return and I get absolutely nothing. Yes I'm sour.
                I know how you feel. When I was in the hospital there was a SCI class that everyone in rehab attended. There were 4 people in the class. We were all told initially that we would never walk again. Of those 4 people 3 walked within 2 months of their injury. Everyone but me. Everyday I wonder why not me? It sucks to be left out.
                "There's too many things to get done, and I'm running out of days" 3 Doors Down


                  In rehab, my therapists all said that there's always hope. I don't understand why they'd say that. Especially since 3 of the 4 walked within 2 months of the injury.


                    Originally posted by helpchristina
                    If the spinal cord is severed 75%, does that significantly reduce the chance of return?

                    I want to point out that the diagnosis of 75% severance is probably inaccurate. To be severed usually means that the spinal cord has been cut through completely. But, that is just semantics and let me try to answer your question.

                    First, both rats and humans can walk with about 10% of their spinal cord. I have observed humans who have tumors that destroyed 90% of their spinal cord, so that the remaining spinal cord is so thin that it is translucent. The spinal cord looks like the thinnest piece of lox that you can get in New York City (sorry about the analogy) and the patient walked out of the hospital. This is because the center for controlling locomotion (central pattern generator or CPG) is located in the lower spinal cord and the brain does not have to have many nerve fibers going to the lower spinal cord to activate the CPG and get coordinated walking.

                    Second, the order and progression of injury significantly affects recovery. If the injury occurred sequentially over several months, the spinal cord is able to recover much better than if all of the injury occurred at one time.

                    Third, if all the injury occurs at one time, recovery usually takes a long time after spinal cord injury. While most of the recovery occurs during the first year after injury, most people continue to get function back for 2-3 years or even longer.

                    In the 1980's, Alstermark published a series of 15 classical papers in which he sequentially cut each of the major spinal cord tracts of cats and observed their ability to recover their ability to retrieve a piece of fish from a beaker with their paw. I attach an abstract of a summary paper and can post the abstracts of the 15 papers. Basically, what Alstermark found was that he could cut all the major tracts of the spinal cord and the cat would slowly recover its ability to use its paw to recover over many months. However, when he cut the tracts one by one over several weeks, the cat initially lost some function a week or two after each cut but recovers its ability to use its paw, even though at the end the cat has only 10% of spinal tracts remaining. If the tracts were all cut at one time, recovery is very slow. In the end, he found that there was one set of pathways that called the C3-C4 propriospinal tracts that seemed to be critical for the ability of the spinal cord to recover its function. If he cut this tract, recovery is slow. Similarly, in the early 1980's, a Japanese scientist by the name of Kato discovered that if he cut half of the spinal cord at one level of the spinal cord and the other half of the spinal cord at another level, the cat would be paralyzed and unable to walk. However, if he cut half of the spinal cord at one level, wait a week, and then cut half of the spinal cord on the other side at another level, the cat usually will recover walking.

                    So, basically, the spinal cord is capable of tremendous plasticity and is able to function with 10% of the spinal cord tracts that it normally has. If the injury occurs in stages, recovery is much faster for reasons that are still not particularly well understood except that it probably involves a spinal tract called the propriospinal tracts. If the injury occurs all at one time, recovery is slower and may take years.


                    1. Alstermark B, Lundberg A, Pettersson LG, Tantisira B and Walkowska M (1987). Motor recovery after serial spinal cord lesions of defined descending pathways in cats. Neurosci Res. 5: 68-73. Department of Physiology, University of Goteborg, Sweden. The food-taking movement by which a cat uses its forepaw to take a piece of food and bring it to its mouth normally depends on the cortico- (CS) and rubrospinal (RS) tracts and disappears when they are transected in C5; a slow reappearance over months is due to bulbospinal (BS) take-over. After complete CS transection but minimal RS transection, food-taking remains. If, one month later, the RS tract is completely transected, food-taking is not abolished as it is when transection is made in one session. It is permanently abolished after a third transection of the ventral quadrant in C2. It is suggested that the food-taking remaining after the first lesion is due to combined RS and BS activity and that the RS tract induces the BS neurones to contribute to the extent that they can take over when the RS tract is completely transected.
                    Last edited by Wise Young; 21 Nov 2005, 12:57 AM.


                      Thank you, Wise. That was very informative.

                      (aka helpchristina)