Difference between revisions of "Spinal chord"

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Nervous system with spinal chord

The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular structure made up of nervous tissue, which extends from the medulla oblongata in the brainstem to the lumbar region of the vertebral column. It encloses the central canal of the spinal cord, which contains cerebrospinal fluid.

Glossary of spinal chord related terms

  • axon - the long, thin extension of a nerve cell that conducts impulses away from the cell body.
  • brain-computer interface - a device with a sensor to monitor brain signals linked to computer software and hardware that turn these signals into commands for external devices. The interface bypasses nerves that have been damaged by injury or other means.
  • cervical - the part of the spine in the neck region.
  • complete injury – the injuryprevents nerve communications from the brain and spinal cord to parts of the body below the injury site.
  • discs - round, spongy pads of cartilage found between the vertebrae that act like shock observers throughout the spinal column and allow for flexibility in the back.
  • functional electrical stimulation (FES) - the therapeutic use of low-level electrical current to stimulate muscle movement and restore useful movements such as standing or stepping; also called functional neuromuscular stimulation.
  • glia -supportive cells in the brain and spinal cord. Glial cells are the most abundant cell types in the central nervous system. There are three types: astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia.
  • incomplete injury – the ability of the spinal cord to convey some messages is not completely lost following injury.
  • lower motor neurons - nerve cells found in the brain stem and spinal cord that directly stimulate movement in the arms, legs, chest, face, throat, and tongue.
  • lumbar - the part of the spine in the middle back, below the thoracic vertebrae and above the sacral vertebrae.
  • macrophage - a type of white blood cell that engulfs foreign material. Macrophages also release substances that stimulate other cells of the immune system.
  • myelin - a structure of cell membranes that forms a sheath around axons, insulating them and speeding conduction of nerve impulses.
  • neural prostheses - devices that provide electrical stimulation to activate paralyzed muscles in a coordinated manner to supplement or restore functional movement.
  • neuron - also known as a nerve cell; the structural and functional unit of the nervous system. A neuron consists of a cell body and its processes: an axon and one or more dendrites.
  • neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to form new nerve connections and pathways following injury or cell death
  • oligodendrocyte - a type of glial cell in the brain and spinal cord that wraps around and insulates axons and speeds the conduction of nerve impulses.
  • paralysis - the inability to control movement of a part of the body.
  • paraplegia - a condition involving paralysis of the legs.
  • quadriplegia - also known as tetraplegia, a condition involving paralysis of the legs and partial or complete paralysis of the arms.
  • sacral - refers to the part of the spine in the hip area.
  • spinal shock - a temporary physiological state that can occur after a spinal cord injury in which all sensory, motor, and sympathetic functions of the nervous system are lost below the level of injury. Spinal shock can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels and cause temporary paralysis.
  • stem cells - cells that have the ability to grow into any one of the body's many cell types. Unlike mature cells, which are permanently committed to their fate, stem cells can both renew themselves and create cells of other tissues.
  • tetraplegia - also called quadriplegia, this refers to paralysis of the legs and partial or complete paralysis of the arms.
  • thoracic - the part of the spine at the upper-back to mid-back level.
  • upper motor neurons - nerve cells in the brain that direct lower motor neurons to produce movements such as walking or chewing.
  • vertebrae - the 33 bones that make up the spinal column, characterized by a round opening through which the spinal cord passes and three flat projections to which muscles of the back attach.


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