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Brain vs. Spinal Cord

A Directed Case Study in CNS Injury

Co Authors:

Patrick R. Field
Department of Biological Sciences
Kean University

Thomas A. Cappaert
Department of Physical Education and Sport
Central Michigan University


In this case study, students read about the injuries sustained by a young man hurt in a serious diving accident. To solve the case, they must determine the type of central nervous system injury described using their knowledge of the differences between symptoms and signs of brain and spinal cord injury. The case was developed for upper-level neuroscience courses and rehabilitation courses that cover the neuroanatomy of the central nervous system and the symptoms of different types of central nervous system injury.

  • To distinguish the differences in symptoms and signs between brain (cerebral hemisphere) and spinal cord injury (hemisection of the cord) using previous knowledge.
  • To determine what type of central nervous system (CNS) injury is present by recognizing the symptoms and signs in a diagnostic summary.
  • To determine the symptoms and signs of an alternate CNS injury that is not being described in the case study using similar diagnostic methods.
  • To be used as a review of previous CNS material and a tool to bring different sections of neuroanatomy together in a clinical context.
Keywords: Central nervous system; brain trauma; brain injury; spine; spinal cord injury; peripheral nervous system; cerebral cortex; diagnostic testing
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division, Graduate
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed, Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Anatomy   Medicine (General)   Sports Science  
Date Posted: 10/01/01
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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