Spinal Chord Injury (SCI)


Anatomy and Physiology

The central nervous system is made up of the spinal cord and the brain. The spinal cord acts as a message way for motor, sensory, and reflex information. Motor information consists of messages sent from the brain to nerves, affecting skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and glands. Sensory information consists of impulses sent to the brain and are interpreted as pressure, hot, cold, or pain. Reflex information consists of impulses that travel between a sensory stimuli, the spinal cord, and an effector (muscle or gland) resulting in a muscle contraction or gland secretion response. This loop is known as the reflex arc.


The Spine

The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. There are 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 4 coccygeal vertebrae. Spinal nerves exit out from the spinal cord through the vertebrae. There are 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 1 coccygeal spinal nerves.



Complete or incomplete injuries to the spinal cord in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine.

The spinal cord functions in the body to transmit motor and sensory signals from the brain to the rest of the body. A disruption to the spinal cord via trauma or disease can result in paralysis below the injury site. This can result in pain, spasm, lack of function and muscle tone decrease below the injury site. The level of injury ranges from C2 to L2 with diagnoses of complete or incomplete. Much like a fingerprint, no two injuries or clients are alike.
The basic classifications of a spinal cord injury are:

Tetraplegia (A term used interchangeably with Quadriplegia)

Injury to the spinal cord in the cervical region with associated loss of muscle strength in all four extremities.


Injury to the spinal cord in the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral segments, including the cauda equina and conus medullaris, are associated with loss of muscle strength in the lower extremities.


Our goal is to try to regain function below the injury level through the retraining of functional movements.

Ways we can help

  • Increased strength and cardiovascular endurance
  • Improved circulation and blood pressure
  • Maintenance of bone density
  • Improved range of motion
  • Reduced muscle spasms and spasticity
  • Improved sensation/temperature control
  • Improved mobility and ability to function independently
  • Potential to reduce pain and depression
  • Reduced risk of pressure sores

This is all done through range of motion, nervous system retraining, weight bearing, and strength exercises.


image003“At Moving Forward, I have gained strength in my core, my transfers have gotten better, and my day to day living has improved, so much so that now I need very little assistance at home. 

The staff at Moving Forward are wonderful, it’s so nice going there you feel like part of their family.  They make you work extremely hard, but at the same time make sure you’re having fun as well.  I encourage anyone I meet to go to Moving Forward, as they have done so much for me, imagine what they can do for someone else. 

After sustaining such a life changing injury, you lose a lot of your independence, but with the help of Mike and his staff I’m gaining more of that back each and everyday, for that there are no words to describe how thankful I am.” ~Sarah