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Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury


Updated July 17, 2011

Definition: To express how much sensory and motor function is lost after a spinal cord injury, one classification doctors use is: This classification is based on how much of the width of the spinal cord has been affected by the injury.

Classifying SCI as complete or incomplete is done in addition to utilizing the ASIA Impairment Scale.

In an incomplete spinal cord injury there are still some functioning nerve cells left in the cord below the level of the injury.

According to the American Spinal Injury Assocation, the injury is incomplete if a patient shows sacral sparing, i.e. the patient has any or all of the following signs:

  • voluntary anal contraction
  • sensation in the anus
  • sensation at the lowest 2 levels (S4 and S5) of the sacrum area

1 Spinal Cord Injury: Hope Through Research National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. June 19, 2006.
2 Standard Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury. American Spinal Injury Association. Mar 06.

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