A spinal cord injury (SCI) is an injury to the spinal cord resulting in a change, either temporary or permanent, in the cord’s normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function.
Common causes of damage are trauma (car accident, gunshot, falls, sports injuries, etc.) or disease (transverse myelitis, polio, spina bifida, Friedreich’s ataxia, etc.). The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of function to occur.
Initial Overview based on Wikipedia entry Jan. 4, 2016.