Spinal Cord Injury Levels
Spinal cord injury levels are used to explain the different severities of paralysis, following an injury to the spinal cord. Generally, the higher the level of injury to the spinal cord, the greater the degree of paralysis will result.
In order to help understand how the level of spinal cord injury affects a persons mobility, The following spinal cord injury level guide has been produced. This is only a general guide, and because every spinal cord injury is different, there may be variations in functional ability from person to person.
Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are categorised as two types of injury:
a. A complete spinal cord injury.
b. An incomplete spinal cord injury.
A complete spinal cord injury means that there is no function or sensation below the level of the injury
An incomplete spinal cord injury means that there is some function or sensation below the primary level of the injury. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another, may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved, or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other.
The American Spinal Cord Injury Association - ASIA Impairment Scale
In order to help classify differing degrees of spinal cord injury, the ASIA impairment scale is used to help compare and understand residual function.
A - Complete
No motor or sensory function in the lowest sacral segment (S4-S5)
B - Incomplete
Sensory function below neurologic level and in S4-S5, no motor function below neurologic level
C - Incomplete
Motor function is preserved below neurologic level and more than half of the key muscle groups below neurologic level have a muscle grade less than 3.
D - Incomplete
Motor function is preserved below neurologic level and at least half of the key muscle groups below neurologic level have a muscle grade 3.
E - Normal
Sensory and motor function is normal
Functionality of C1, C2, C3 Quadriplegic
Mobility & Movement
Limited head and neck movement depending on
Complete paralysis of arms, body and legs.
Sympathetic nervous system will be compromised,
possibility of Autonomic Dysreflexia.
Electric wheelchair may possibly be controlled
by either a chin or "sip and puff" controller, this
will vary depending on dexterity.
The person will require total
assistance when transferring from a bed to a wheelchair and
from a wheelchair into a car. A hoist will have to be used,
possibly by two assistants for safety.
Complete assistance required during
Inability to breathe using chest
muscles or diaphragm, therefore the person will be dependant
on a ventilator to breathe. A portable ventilator can be attached
to the back of a wheelchair during transport.
Oxygen and humidification may
Assistance required to clear secretions
from trachea, and assistance in coughing will be required.
Complete personal assistance is
required. The person will need assistance with washing, dressing,
and assistance with bowel and bladder management.
Complete domestic care is required,
such as household cleaning, washing of clothes and kitchen
duties, preparation of meals and general household duties.
A computer may be operated using
iris recognition, mouth stick or voice recognition. Telephone
can be used using voice recognition and headset.
The above functionality guide is only a general guide. Abilities will vary depending on the persons weight, existing medical conditions and age.