Spinal Cord Injury and Trauma

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

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Spinal cord injury is a devastating condition that represents a significant public health problem. There are approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injury cases in the United States each year. The average age of those affected is less than 40 years, and it is estimated that approximately 259,000 Americans currently live with these injuries.

Injury to the spinal cord can cause permanent sensory and motor dysfunction, such as the inability to use the arms or legs. Recovery from a complete spinal cord injury is very rare, leaving most patients with significant permanent disability. Spinal cord injury is often associated with spinal instability or spinal fractures that require specialized expertise for operative fixation. Washington University neurosurgeons perform the entire spectrum of complex spinal stabilization procedures. In emergency

Why rely on Washington University experts for spinal cord injury treatment?

Washington University neurosurgeons are consistently recognized for clinical excellence in treating spinal cord injuries.

Our spine providers are fellowship trained in complex spine and spinal cord injuries. They offer

  • the most advanced treatments available
  • clinical trials including a ground-breaking surgery to repair damaged nerves and paralysis
  • minimally invasive surgery
  • awake spine surgery to shorten time spent in surgery while avoiding general anesthesia side-affects.

Spinal Cord Treatment

Washington University neurosurgeons provide comprehensive minimally invasive treatment for all traumatic spine and spinal cord injuries.

 Our Level I trauma center is dedicated to providing coordinated care to severely injured patients. Working closely with trauma surgeons, emergency room physicians and neuroradiologists, our spine providers are able to treat complex fractures involving all areas of the spine.

We also offer a wide range of rehabilitation resources at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis.

Nerve Transfers for Chronic Spinal Cord Injury (Tetraplegia)

Washington University neurosurgeons are among the very first to perform nerve transfers for spinal cord injury. This improves upper extremity and hand function in patients with injuries to the cervical spine causing paralysis in all four limbs.

This leading-edge clinical trial is sponsored by the Department of Defense and is increasingly being recognized worldwide as a treatment option for patients living with a chronic spinal cord injury. Washington University has a lot of, if not the largest, experience in the world with this treatment.

Read more about our ground-breaking work restoring arm, hand function after spinal cord injury »