Medical professionals like orthopedic surgeons and physiatrists use a spinal cord injury scoring card or system to determine the severity of a spinal cord injury.
Published by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), The International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI) exam is commonly used to record the type and degree of SCI impairments. The severity range goes from ASIA “A”, complete injury to “D” incomplete (“E” is when sensory and motor functions are normal) . All spinal cord injuries are severe and significant. Often those who have ASIA D injuries and can walk feel ‘excluded’ from the spinal cord community but there serious injuries have life long consequences.
The ISNCSCI Exam can be found here.
This exam provides steps to determine sensory, motor and neurological levels based on neurological responses, touch and pinprick sensations tested in each dermatome (an area of skin served by a single spinal nerve), as well as the strength of muscles that control key motions. The spinal cord injury is also determined as either “complete” or “incomplete”.
Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Complete spinal injury is when all functions below the injured area are lost, whether or not the spinal cord is severed.
Incomplete spinal cord injury involves preservation of motor or sensory function below the level of injury in the spinal cord.
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