Central cord syndrome is a form of incomplete spinal cord injury (in which some of the signals from the brain to the body are not received), characterized by impairment in the arms and hands and, to a lesser extent, in the legs. The brain's ability to send and receive signals to and from parts of the body below the site of trauma is affected but not entirely blocked. This syndrome, usually the result of trauma, is associated with damage to the large nerve fibers that carry information directly from the cerebral cortex to the spinal cord. These nerves are particularly important for hand and arm function. Symptoms may include paralysis and/or loss of fine control of movements in the arms and hands, with relatively less impairment of leg movements. Sensory loss below the site of the spinal injury and loss of bladder control may also occur, with the overall amount and type of functional loss dependent on how severely the nerves of the spinal cord are damaged.
Is there any treatment?
There is no cure, nor is there a standard course of treatment, for central cord syndrome. Drug therapy, surgery, and rest are often part of the treatment program.
What is the prognosis?
The prognosis for individuals with central cord syndrome varies. Patients who receive medical intervention soon after their injury often have good outcomes. Many people with the disorder recover substantial function after their initial injury, and the ability to walk is recovered in most of the cases, although some impairment may remain.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Reviewed: November 2002
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