On Sunday September 4th while cycling alone near Blue Mountain in Collingwood Ontario, Tracy Dort-Kyne crashed her bike on Scenic Caves Road and suffered a life-changing Complete C3/C4 spinal injury. She had been training for The Centurion 50 road race. Tracy was flown by air-ambulance to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and was in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit for several weeks. Tracy is a single mom of 3 young boys and was only recently transferred to The Lyndhurst Centre at Toronto Rehab. Tracy is now as a quadriplegic. You can read more about what happened to Tracy that day in a blog post written by the young man that found her.
The following information from the Christopher Reeve Foundation should help you to better understand the nature of Tracy’s spinal injury and her possible outcomes.
The location of the spinal cord injury dictates the parts of the body that are affected. After a complete examination, the doctor will assign a level of injury. The doctor will also determine if the injury is complete or incomplete. The level of injury and function may change; the initial level of injury may not be the same level upon discharge to rehabilitation. It is important to remember that these are general guidelines and that individual outcomes will vary.
Spinal cord injury occurs when the bony protection surrounding the cord is damaged by way of fractures, dislocation, burst; compression, hyperextension or hyperflexion; Some of the resultant types injury go by the terms cauda equina, conus medularis, central and anterior cord syndrome, or Brown-Sequard syndrome.
Cervical Spinal Cord Injury C1 – C8 — Quadriplegia also known as Tetraplegia
Cervical level injuries cause paralysis or weakness in both arms and legs (quadriplegia). All regions of the body below the level of injury or top of the back may be affected. Sometimes this type of injury is accompanied by loss of physical sensation, respiratory issues, bowel, bladder, and other functions. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the back of the head, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, and diaphragm. Since the neck region is so flexible it is difficult to stabilize cervical spinal cord injuries. Patients with cervical level injuries may be placed in a brace or stabilizing device.
Complete and Incomplete:
An incomplete injury means that the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost; some sensation and movement is possible below the level of injury. A complete injury is indicated by a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury. But the absence of motor and sensory function below the injury site does not necessarily mean that there are no remaining intact axons or nerves crossing the injury site, just that they do not function appropriately following the injury.