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4 Amazing Spinal Cord Facts


The central nervous system is responsible for controlling and communicating information throughout the body. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to survive.

And as it turns out, it’s made up of two main parts—the brain and the spinal cord, the former of which plays a central role in most bodily functions including movements, sensations, awareness, thoughts, and memory.

But what about the spinal cord? What role does it play? Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing in this post.

Interested? If so, be sure to keep reading—we’ll be going over a few amazing spinal cord facts below!

What Is the Spinal Cord?

The brain stem is a long, tube-like structure that’s made up of nervous tissue. Anatomy-wise, it begins at the end of the brain stems and extends to the lumbar region of the spine.

Put it simply, it acts as a conduit between our brain and the rest of the body. It allows us to control our arms and legs, among other things.

4 Amazing Spinal Cord Facts That You Should Know

The spinal cord and spine work in fascinating ways. Here are a few things that you might not have known about.

1. It Stops Growing Once You Turn Four

Our spinal cord matures physically at the age of four. In other words, that’s as long as it’s ever going to get. For those who are curious, the average length is 45cm.

The spine and spinal discs, however, will continue to grow as you age.

2. It Cannot Heal Itself

Unlike other parts of your body, the spinal cord is incapable of repairing itself. Depending on the extent of the injury, it may result in paralysis.

For example, an injury to the upper portion of the spinal cord can cause quadriplegia—that is, paralysis from the neck down.

With that said, some cases may be treatable with a spinal cord injury rehab program.

3. It's Smaller Than You Think

The spinal cord isn’t very thick at all despite its function. Diameter-wise, it measures approximately 1 to 1.5cm (about as thick as your fingernail). If anything, that’s one of the reasons why it’s so vulnerable to direct injury.

4. It Allows You to Sweat

The spinal cord is necessary for sweating. In those with quadriplegia, the spinal cord will no longer be able to transmit signals from your brain to the sweat glands. In other words, they'll no longer be able to sweat.

As a result, these individuals must be cooled manually (e.g. using air conditioning or cool water).

Understanding the Spinal Cord

And there you have it—four interesting spinal cord facts. Which one surprised you the most?

Looking for more articles like this? If so, you might want to check out the rest of our healthcare section! Who knows? You might just learn a thing or two!

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