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Spinal cord injuries can be immediate or insidious and result from either a traumatic insult, vascular disruption, or a disease process. The height of injury dictates the degree of affect to movement and sensation, with damage to the T-spine causing paraplegia and reduced movement. Sensation in the legs is affected and potentially some stomach muscles. Damage to the C-spine can occur causing tetraplegia and reduced movement in all four limbs, as well as the stomach and some chest muscles.
A spinal cord injury can be either complete (no muscle function, voluntary movement or sensation from the level of injury and below) or incomplete (some muscle function and sensation below the level of injury).