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Spinal cord injury awareness and prevention

Prevention begins with awareness

Most spinal cord injuries occur due to accidents

By increasing awareness and taking precautions, many of these accidents and the resulting spinal cord injuries can be prevented. For those concerned with quality of life of young people, preventing spinal cord injury must become a primary concern.

Understanding spinal cord injury

The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that runs inside the vertebral column (the backbone). Nerves from this bundle, which are distributed throughout the body, control voluntary actions – such as moving one's arm and leg – and involuntary actions – such as food digestion and breathing. Spinal cord injury results in paralysis of the limbs affected as well as partial or complete disruption of involuntary actions, including bowel, bladder and sexual function.

Spinal cord injury facts

Pediatric spinal cord injury facts

Risk factors for spinal cord injury

Prevention safety tips

Shriners Hospitals for Children are committed to to raising awareness and helping prevent spinal cord injuries. Here are some safety tips to lessen the likelihood of these incidents:


Download and save all of these tips.

Rehabilitation and management

In the mid-1980s, Shriners Hospitals for Children established the first spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation programs specifically designed for children and teenagers. Today the hospital system is recognized worldwide as a leader in pediatric SCI rehabilitation and management.

Innovative therapies available at Shriners Hospitals for Children (for children and teens with SCI), include body weight support manual treadmill training, or, at our Chicago hospital, robotic treadmill training with the Lokomat, a device that automates movement therapy. Both of these methods provide weight-bearing opportunities and can help stimulate muscles and build strength and stamina.

In addition to therapy, exercise and activity-based rehabilitation, including aqua therapy, pet therapy and adaptive sports, is emphasized. These activities also increase strength and stamina and enhance social interaction, confidence and independence.

Shriners Hospitals for Children has a long history of using functional electrical stimulation (FES) to improve the functional ability of patients with SCI. FES is a sophisticated, computerized system that sends small doses of electrical current to peripheral nerves, stimulating paralyzed muscles. FES can also provide an opportunity for recreational activity and exercise.

The Shriners Hospitals' SCI program provides a complete range of services designed to ensure children and teens with spinal cord injuries recover to the greatest extent possible. More information about our programs and services can be found in our Leaders in Care magazine.