What is the ASIA Impairment Scale?

"The degree of function after injury is measured according to the five-level ASIA Impairment Scale. They are:

  • A = Complete: No motor or sensory function in the lowest sacral segment (S4-S5).
  • B = Sensory Incomplete: Sensory function below neurologic level and in S4-S5, no motor function below neurologic level.
  • C = Motor Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below neurologic level and more than half of the key muscle groups below neurologic level have a muscle grade less than 3.
  • D = Motor Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below neurologic level and at least half of the key muscle groups below neurologic level have a muscle grade of 3 or more.
  • E = Normal: Sensory and motor function is normal

A person with an SCI above C4 may require a ventilator to breathe. A C5 injury often leaves shoulder and biceps control, but no control at the wrist or hand. C6 injury leaves control of the wrist, but not the hand. C7 and T1 injuries leave the ability to straighten the arms, but have only limited hand and finger dexterity.

Injuries below T1 result in paraplegia. At T1 to T8 there is most often control of the hands, but lack of abdominal muscle control leaves poor trunk control. Lower T injuries leave good control of the trunk and abdominal muscles. Injuries at the lumbar and sacral vertebra reduce control of the hip flexors and legs.

As well as a loss of sensation or motor functioning, an SCI produces other changes. There can be bowel and bladder dysfunction and sexual functioning is also frequently affected. Men may have their fertility affected, while women’s fertility is generally not affected. Very high injuries (C1, C2) can result in a loss of many involuntary functions including the ability to breathe, necessitating breathing aids such as mechanical ventilators or diaphragmatic pacemakers. Other effects of SCI may include low blood pressure, inability to regulate blood pressure effectively, reduced control of body temperature, inability to sweat below the level of injury, and chronic pain." (Visited 08/03/2019 - What is Spinal Cord Injury?)

Disclaimer: The Spinal Cord Injuries Australia - does not promote, endorse or fund Think Mobility. These links are provided by Think Mobility only as a convenience to our customers.

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