Spinal Cord Injury

in plain language

Our brain is ‘electrically wired’ to our muscles by two sets of nerves, which transmits ‘command signals’ back and fourth. These ‘cables’ runs down in our spine and are very vulnerable. Some illness or an accident as for example a traffic accident or the famous case of Superman – Christopher Reeve, may damage these spinal nerves. After such a spinal cord lesion the brain cannot connect to the muscles anymore and the muscles become paralysed. The neck is one of the vounerable regions and many injuries occour at the cervical level, mostly what is called C6.

A Cervical spinal cord injury (CSCI) will cause tetraplegia or quadriplegia. This means that the person cannot walk or use the hands well. Legs, trunk and partly the arms will be paralysed. Depending on completeness and level of lesion some muscles may have preserved some movement – what is called paresis.

Cervical spinal cord lesion involves loosing the ability to grasp and manipulate everyday objects. This means loss of personal independence having to ask for help in carrying out many daily tasks such as eating, drinking, writing, personal hygene and generally working with your hands. Many people suffering CSCI wants to improve their hand function. It is among the highest priorities Literature.

This is where FES can be useful because we can stimulate the paralysed muscles to create movements as for example flex the fingers to hold objects again.