Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (Australia) is usually held in September by national bodies aimed at creating awareness and inclusivity for all people. In 2017, the campaign will be held between 4th and 10th of September.
The Australian Spinal Injury Alliance is mandated with the responsibility of creating awareness about Spinal Cord Injury during that week. The role of this organisation is to liaise with the government, providing information, creating awareness and preventing injuries.
The spinal cord is made up of nerves that run at the back of the body. It is involved in the transmission of signals from the brain to the body and back. The spinal cord and the brain collectively constitute the central nervous system. The spinal cord has 31 different segments which are majorly classified as; lumbar, thoracic, cervical, sacral and caudal segments. The spinal cord consists of the motor and sensory tracts. Motor tracts facilitate transmission of signals that are involved in muscle movement control. Sensory tracts, on the other hand, are involved in signal transmission between body and brain that relate to heat, pressure and pain.
A Spinal Cord Injury is defined as an injury that causes damage to the spinal cord, resulting in a temporary or permanent change in function. When a Spinal Cord Injury occurs, there is disruption of signal transmission between the body and the brain which results in loss of sensation. These injuries can be classified as either complete or incomplete. A complete Spinal Cord Injury leads to paralysis because of the loss of signal transmission below the injury level. In an incomplete injury, there is some level of sensation below the injury level.
The major causes of Spinal Cord Injuries worldwide are motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents. Spinal Cord Injuries can also occur as a result of sports injuries and violent incidents such as a gunshot. Diseases such as Osteoporosis and Arthritis also can result in Spinal Cord Injury.
Signs and symptoms that accompany a Spinal Cord Injury include pain at the back of the body and the neck, reduced fertility and sexual vigour, respiratory problems that manifest as dyspnea and coughing. There is also reduced control over one’s bladder and the bowel. A person with a spinal cord injury displays impaired movement in the hands, fingers, legs and the toes.
Spinal Cord Injury Awareness week in Australia aims to increase awareness of those living with spinal cord injuries and offer an insight into their daily lives. Organisations involved in this awareness event also look at ways to provide improved support to people with Spinal Cord Injuries.