Spinal Cord Injury

What is Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury is a traumatic injury to the spine which causes temporary or permanent changes in its normal function. The spine is an extension of the brain and contains nerves which carry messages to the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury can interrupt these messages, resulting in loss of movement and sensation from below the injury.

Paraplegia is a common effect of damage to the spinal cord in your back, with your legs and some stomach muscles affected. Tetraplegia affects all four limbs and occurs following damage to the spinal cord in your neck. These side effects can be temporary or permanent, and the severity of the loss of sensation will vary from person to person.

Spinal cord injuries can be caused by multiple sources. These include:

  • Falls
  • Violent attacks
  • Road Traffic Accidents
  • Sporting Injuries

Common effects of spinal cord injury include loss of movement; loss of bowel and bladder control; exaggerated reflexes; changes in sexual function; pain in the spinal cord; difficulty breathing or coughing; and loss of sensation or paralysis.

There are certain risk factors which make you more likely to sustain a spinal cord injury. These include being male, between the ages of 16-30 or over 65. If you engage in contact sports, extreme sports or if you have a pre-existing condition such as arthritis, then you are also considered more likely to suffer a spinal injury.


After suffering a spinal cord injury, you may spend a significant amount of time in hospital before being transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Once you go home, spinal cord injury treatment can involve a combination of medication and physiotherapy, while also managing secondary issues which come with the injury such as bowel and bladder problems, depression and respiratory infections.

Each person with a spinal cord injury will respond to treatments differently, as they are likely to present with varying symptoms due to the nature of the injury. No two spinal cord injuries are the same, so it is important to make rehabilitation as patient focused as possible.

Our Approach

At Flex Health, we are dedicated to patient centred care. Our team of experienced rehabilitators will support you from the initial assessment and throughout your rehabilitation, taking into consideration your personal goals and creating a thorough treatment plan to support you after spinal cord injury. We understand that maximising your independence will be a priority, so placing focus on functional movement and strengthening the muscles will challenge your body and help you reach prime function.

Depending on the spinal cord injury, associated issues can include muscle weakness or paralysis, reduced ability to breath, loss of mobility and balance, loss of functional movement, poor posture and pain. Our team are able to support with these side effects through the use of manual and physical therapies. Stretching will conserve muscle and tendon length while breathing exercises can help lung function and reduce the risk of chest infection. We will also help you to practice practical movements like getting out of bed and sitting up. Re-learning to walk will also be incorporated into your treatment plan if there is enough muscle activity and strength in the legs.

Our main priority is to maximise your independence and function, so that you are able to achieve the best quality of life possible. We will work closely with you, your family and any carers to ensure that your rehabilitation is taking priority, as well as consistently reviewing your personal goals for recovery. With the right intensive treatment, advice and support, you will be able to maximise on your recovery and achieve optimum function.


What equipment do you have?

At Flex Health, we have access to some of the latest rehabilitation equipment. Our FES Cycle is particularly useful for people who are paralysed in their lower limbs as the electrical current stimulates the muscles to perform a cycling movement. This provides benefits like improving physical fitness and strengthening the muscles. To find out more about our rehabilitation equipment, please click here.

What will my treatment involve?

Your treatment will involve a combination of manual therapy such as massage, and physical therapy. This could mean using some of our equipment or practising functional movements.

Do I need a referral?

At Flex Health, we will take referrals from doctors and self-referrals, so if you are interested in finding out more about how we might be able to support you then please call us on 01482 966 006.