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Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders System of Care

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What is a spinal cord injury or disorder (SCI/D)?

A spinal cord injury or disorder (commonly called SCI/D) affects the communication pathway between your brain and the rest of your body. Your spinal cord is the main pathway for signals moving between your brain and your body. A spinal cord injury or disorder will stop some, or all, of the signals. This might affect your sensation (for example your sense of touch), your ability to control your muscles, and other important functions.

Injuries to different parts of the spinal cord will have different effects. An injury to the mid or lower parts of the spinal cord can cause a lack of feeling and movement in the lower part of your body, including your bowel and bladder, causing a condition called paraplegia. An injury higher on the spinal cord that causes a lack of feeling and movement in the upper body and arms as well as the lower body, bowel, and bladder is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia.

People who have paraplegia or tetraplegia are more likely to develop other medical problems. In order to avoid these problems, you need to have education about how to prevent complications, and you need regular medical care from doctors who have been trained to understand the unique conditions and problems that sometimes develop in people with SCI/D. Veterans with SCI/D should consider the quality care and benefits of SCI/D care in VA.

You can learn more about spinal cord injuries and disorders at the following links (These links take you off of the VA website. VA is not responsible for information in these links.):