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Thecentral nervous system

Humanshave what is called a central nervous system. This means that all thecontrolling and commanding centers of the nervous system arelocalized – centralized. They are located in the brain, while thespinal cord serves as a superhighway which gathersinformation-carrying impulses from nerves all over the body and sendscorresponding commanding or controlling impulses from the brain tothe distant nerves and body parts or organs for which the response ismeant.

Spinalcord damage

Damageto the spinal cord causes interruption in transfer or cessation oftransfer of nervous impulses to and from the brain. This means thatthe link between a part of the body (or the entire body) and thebrain is broken. It can cause lack of sensation, paralysis, cessationof function or even withering and dying out of the region that is nolonger connected to the brain.

Causesof spinal cord damage

Typicalcauses of spinal cord damage are injury, trauma or medical conditionsthat may lead to loss of function of nerves located in the spinalcord. These usually arise from motor vehicle accidents, falls, actsof violence, sport injuries or diseases such as arthritis,osteoporosis and cancer, or inflammation of the spinal cord. However,it is possible to break a neck or spine and avoid injury to thespinal cord, if the nerves sustained no trauma, compression ordamage.

Symptoms

Dependingof the location of the injury and the level of injury that the spinalcord has suffered, affected person may experience loss of movement,partial or complete loss of sensation, loss of bowel and bladdercontrol, spasms or increased reflex reactions, impairment of sexualfunction, sensation of stinging and pain, difficulties related tofunctioning of the lungs and breathing and others

Ifyou experience debilitating back pain or sensation or pressure in thehead, neck or back, inexplicable weakness or lack of control andcoordination in any part of the body, loss of sensation or prolongedfeeling of tingling or numbness in any part of your body, loss ofbladder or bowel control, problems with walking or maintainingbalance, breathing problems or odd neck or head position, afterinjury, seek immediate medical assistance.

Personsuspected of spinal cord injury should not be moved as it could causefurther damage to the spinal cord which can cause severe injury andcomplete paralysis. Call for help and stay still (or keep the injuredperson still).

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