Complications of spinal cord injury

  1. Unable to feel anything below the injury.
  2. Unable to move anything below the injury.
  3. Difficulty breathing – due to chest muscle paralysis.
  4. May feel faint or dizzy due to low blood pressure (autonomic nervous system problems).

Injured casualties with a cord injury will present with problems of all the major functions of the spinal cord. Namely, they will have pain in the neck and may be unable to feel or move anything below the place (level) where the cord is injured. The chest muscles may be paralysed, so that the casualty may find breathing difficult and be unable to take in enough oxygen. They may be panicking, and trying to breathe as best they can, using any muscles that have not been paralysed. They may have a blue tinge to the lips (cyanosis) due to lack of oxygen in the blood. This combination is known as “respiratory distress”. The lack of autonomic control may cause problems with low blood pressure as the walls of the blood vessels become floppy. This may make the casualty feel dizzy or even lose consciousness.