Spinal cord injury (SCI) induces a series of anatomic and physiological disorders which have severe repercussions on neural function. SCI is classified chronologically into an acute (primary and secondary phase) and a chronic phase. The primary phase results directly from the initial trauma and is comprised of disturbances in neural tissue (mainly axons), blood vessels, and spinal shock. Secondary injury results from a series of time-dependent pathophysiological changes, beginning in the first minutes after SCI and lasting days and weeks. This phase is characterized by biochemical and immunological alterations in the injury site and periphery, leading to neuronal over-excitation, apoptosis, and axonal demyelination. In chronic stages, the pathophysiology consists of disturbances in fiber organization, oligodendrocyte apoptosis, fibroglial scar formation, and cyst formation, leading to parenchymal alterations such as syringomyelia and hydromyelia hindering the possibility for functional basal axonal regeneration. This chapter will review a wide range of pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapeutic strategies in preclinical and clinical phases, each targeting different pathological mechanisms of SCI in acute and chronic stages of SCI; taking into account limitations, advances, scope, and new trends. The chapter focuses on the general aspects of SCI pathophysiology, pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments acute and chronic stages of SCI.
Part of the book: Essentials of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine