Confirm your location

Confirm you location or select from a list of countries in order to get in touch with your local Ottobock market. We will make sure you´re redirected to your selected site in the future so you´ll always be in the right place.

Sina, SCI patient, is wearing the C-Brace in her room. The Exopulse Mollii Suit is lying next to her as well as the wheelchair, Zenit.
Sina, SCI patient, is wearing the C-Brace in her room. The Exopulse Mollii Suit is lying next to her as well as the wheelchair, Zenit.
NeuroMobility Support
Mastering mobility challenges with a spinal cord injury (SCI)

Learn more about solutions to support your mobility.

Living With SCI

Recovering from a major neurological injury

A spinal cord injury is a serious, traumatic event that can put many life-changing limits on your mobility: from weakness in your limbs, to muscle spasms, chronic pain, and complete loss of muscle control.

Recovering from this kind of injury can be a long and challenging process, especially when it comes to your freedom of movement. But with the right care, support, and holistic approach, it’s possible for many patients to regain the mobility they need to take part in everyday life. Keep reading to learn how.

Sina’s story: Learning to live and move again

A devoted math and physical education teacher, Sina wouldn’t let a spinal cord injury hold her back from her students, her work, and the life she wanted to live.

Watch her story to learn more about some of the challenges she faced, and how Ottobock NeuroMobility solutions helped her move more freely and confidently again.




Types

The different kinds of spinal cord injury

In most cases, this condition results from some kind of trauma, like a traffic accident, fall, sports injury, or violent event. However it occurs, a spinal cord injury can seriously disrupt nerve signals and muscle control — especially in your limbs and torso.

To understand how that damage can affect your mobility, it’s important to understand two things:

  • The difference between “complete” and “incomplete” spinal cord injuries

  • Where the neurological damage has occurred in your spinal cord (the bundle of nerves running through your spine)

Here’s a closer look at both ways spinal cord injuries are classified, and how the different types can affect your mobility.

“Complete” vs “incomplete” injuries

Most spinal cord injuries will have a major impact on nerve signals and muscle control below the site of your injury. The impact on your mobility may vary depending on how severely your spinal cord has been damaged. 

The different movement-related symptoms fall into two main types of spinal cord injury:

Tobias is sitting in the Juvo B7 wheelchair in a studio.
Complete injury

Full loss of muscle control

This kind of injury usually leaves patients with no muscle control below the place their spine is damaged. Depending on where the injury occurs, people with complete injuries often cannot move their arms, midsection, and/or legs.

This kind of injury usually leaves patients with no muscle control below the place their spine is damaged. Depending on where the injury occurs, people with complete injuries often cannot move their arms, midsection, and/or legs.

Nomine is sitting in the kidevo wheelchair driving through the park with her mother.
Incomplete injury

Partial loss of muscle control

People with this kind of injury may still have some ability to move their limbs and torso. Even limited control of those parts of their body can make a big difference in their ability to use different mobility aids.

People with this kind of injury may still have some ability to move their limbs and torso. Even limited control of those parts of their body can make a big difference in their ability to use different mobility aids.

Location of your injury

Doctors can also classify your spinal cord injury based on where exactly your spine has been damaged. 

There are four main areas they focus on:

Cervical spine (neck area) marked.
Location

Cervical (neck area)

Cervical spinal cord injuries are the most common kind. Complete cervical injuries paralyze a patient’s arms, legs, and head. Incomplete cervical injuries may cause weakness or paralysis in the shoulders, neck, arms, trunk, or legs.

Exploring mobility solutions

If you’ve experienced any type of spinal cord injury, mobility solutions like orthoses, wheelchairs, and neuromodulation technologies can be a valuable part of your recovery and ongoing care. But the right options may vary depending on your injury and symptoms. 

For example, a patient with a complete thoracic injury may need a wheelchair to navigate their day. An individual with an incomplete lumbar injury may recover some ability to walk with the help of orthoses. Whatever your injury, it’s important to talk to a mobility expert — like a physical therapist or certified prosthetist-orthotist (CPO) — to explore the options that may be best for you.

Click below or keep reading to learn more about some of these products and technologies.

Mobility Challenges

Major symptoms that can limit your motor function

The nerves in the spinal cord play a critical role in many different bodily functions. Damaging them can lead to many different neurological issues, from respiratory and circulatory problems to bowel and bladder dysfunction. These debilitating issues can also have a major impact on some patients’ mental health too.


Mobility challenges, however, are among the most common and disabling results of a spinal cord injury. Depending on exactly how and where your spine has been damaged, spinal cord injuries can cause several severe, lifelong symptoms, including paralysis (paraplegia or tetraplegia), paresis, spasticity, and pain.

David is sitting at the pier with a friend and wearing the C-Brace.
Mobility Challenge

Paralysis (tetraplegia or paraplegia)

Complete injuries often paralyze much of the body. Complete cervical injuries can leave patients unable to move their arms, midsection, and legs (tetraplegia). Lower complete injuries may paralyze a patient’s hips, legs, and feet (paraplegia).

Complete injuries often paralyze much of the body. Complete cervical injuries can leave patients unable to move their arms, midsection, and legs (tetraplegia). Lower complete injuries may paralyze a patient’s hips, legs, and feet (paraplegia).

Marjan is wearing the C-Brace and playing in the garden with a child.
Mobility Challenge

Paresis (partial paralysis)

With some incomplete spinal cord injuries, a patient may experience weakness or loss of some control in their limbs — a condition called paresis. Patients with paresis may still have some limited ability to move their arms and legs.

With some incomplete spinal cord injuries, a patient may experience weakness or loss of some control in their limbs — a condition called paresis. Patients with paresis may still have some limited ability to move their arms and legs.

Sina is wearing the Exopulse Mollii Suit and lying on her bed.
Mobility Challenge

Spasticity (uncontrolled muscle contraction)

Most people with a spinal cord injury will experience muscle stiffness, spasms, or tightening. These symptoms can make many daily activities more difficult, from sitting up, to personal hygiene, to sitting comfortably at a table.

Most people with a spinal cord injury will experience muscle stiffness, spasms, or tightening. These symptoms can make many daily activities more difficult, from sitting up, to personal hygiene, to sitting comfortably at a table.

Marjan is wearing the C-Brace and walking outside with her family.
Mobility Challenge

Chronic pain

Many people with a spinal cord injury will experience some form of severe, constant pain. Sometimes that pain is related to spasticity, but it can also come from straining or overusing muscles weakened by the injury.

Many people with a spinal cord injury will experience some form of severe, constant pain. Sometimes that pain is related to spasticity, but it can also come from straining or overusing muscles weakened by the injury.

Managing SCI

Increasing your mobility after a spinal cord injury

Whether your injury is complete or incomplete, improving your freedom of movement can often be a complex, lifelong process. 

Your recovery and rehabilitation may look different depending on your injury and its impact, but it should always involve a multidisciplinary care team — including experts in physical therapy, orthotics, and mobility. These specialists may approach your treatment in a variety of ways, depending on the location of your injury, your exact symptoms, and your residual muscle control. 

That care typically has three key phases:

  1. Acute treatment: Immediately after a spinal cord injury, the top priority is to protect your vital functions, stabilize your spine, and prevent more severe complications.

  2. Rehabilitation: Once your spine has been stabilized, the focus shifts to holistic treatment for the physical, psychological, social, and work-related impact of your injury. During this phase, you may start using a combination of different mobility aids to help you rebuild their ability to move. 

  3. Long-term care: People with a spinal cord injury typically require many forms of ongoing support for their mobility, independence, and overall quality of life. Over time, your care team may have you continue trying different combinations of mobility aids, from orthoses, to wheelchairs, to a neuromodulation garment for spasticity symptoms.

Managing symptoms with NeuroMobility solutions

No matter what kind of spinal cord injury you’ve experienced, improving your mobility will be a big part of your long-term care. Freedom of movement is critical to everyday life, from personal care, to eating and working, navigating your world, and beyond. 

Many different mobility aids can help, from simple braces, to wheelchairs, to advanced neuromodulation devices designed to reduce spasticity and related pain. Here’s a closer look at some of these technologies and solutions.

Sina gets up from the wheelchair with the C-Brace.
Product Solutions
Contact

Learn how we support people with spinal cord injuries.

Exploring ways to improve your or a loved one’s mobility after a spinal cord injury? We’d love to help. Submit the following form and a member of our NeuroMobility team will get in touch shortly.