Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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      Slides Spinal Cord Injuries and Syndromes.pdf
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      Review Sheet Spinal Cord Injury Assessment Treatment Nursing.pdf
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      Reference List Medical Surgical Nursing and Pathophysiology Nursing.pdf
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    00:01 Now, spinal cord injuries can be complete or they can be incomplete.

    00:06 If we're talking about a complete spinal cord injury, there's a total loss of feeling and motion below the injury site.

    00:14 So remember we looked at those pictures where someone had a complete spinal cord injury.

    00:18 They have completely lost any feeling, sensation, temperature, pain, etc. below the site, but they've also lost motion.

    00:27 An incomplete spinal cord injury is the one that's really different and unique in each patient.

    00:34 There could be some sensation, there might be some motion, it's not gonna be normal function, but it's not gonna be as complete as a severed spinal cord injury.

    00:43 So, let's talk about some examples.

    00:46 Now, there's anterior cord syndrome.

    00:48 You've already got something to link that to, right? You know. Go back and look at - we showed you the diagram of the spinal cord.

    00:55 What type? Sensory or motor is located in the anterior section? Now central cord syndrome is gonna be right in the middle.

    01:05 Posterior cord syndrome is going to be what we would call the back or the posterior portion.

    01:10 Brown-Sequard syndrome, that one is really interesting.

    01:14 And then we'll talk about cauda equina syndrome.

    01:16 Okay. So these are five examples of spinal cord injury syndromes and we're gonna walk through each one of these in a little more detail.

    01:27 So an acute spinal cord injury, if it's an incomplete injury that's an example of like bruising or tearing of the spinal cord.

    01:36 Bruising of the spinal cord is actually more common than tearing, and you're more likely to see the bruising.

    01:42 Now a patient might have no motor ability or sensation ability below the injury, might have paraplegia or quadriplegia which we refer to also as tetraplegia.

    01:53 But an incomplete spinal cord injury is more common than complete.

    01:58 And remember, it might be from - bruising is the most likely the common cause or it might be from tearing.

    02:04 Okay. Remember we talked about those five types of spinal cord injuries.

    02:08 Well, we classify them according to what part of the cord is damaged.

    02:13 For example; anterior, posterior and central cord syndromes, they refer to injuries that are in the front, back and center of the normal spinal cord.

    02:23 So if it's anterior, it's in the front. If it's posterior, it's in the back.

    02:27 And if it's central, it's in the middle.

    02:30 Now, the Brown-Sequard syndrome, this injury might be to the left or right side but you have both paralysis and loss of motion so it's a really unusual one.

    02:40 Now cauda equina, that's a lesion that you have, maybe injury to the nerves between the first and second lumbar region, really, really low.

    02:48 So an incomplete spinal cord injury often caused by bruising, sometimes with tearing, we classify it by the location of the injury: front, back, middle or the Brown-Sequard.

    02:59 Which is really not very common but if you get to see it, it's fascinating.

    03:04 And finally the cauda equina lesion.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Spinal Cord Injuries and Syndromes (Nursing) .

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Caused by bruising or tearing of the spinal cord
    2. More common than complete spinal cord injuries
    3. May result in paraplegia or tetraplegia/quadraplegia
    4. Tearing is the most common cause of incomplete spinal cord injuries.
    5. These injuries will result in a total loss of sensation and motor function below the site of injury.
    1. By the location of the injury
    2. Dysfunction caused by the injury
    3. Remaining functionality after the injury
    4. Dermatome affected by the injury

    Author of lecture Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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