Some times physical energy of the injury mechanism causes immediate depolarization of axonal membranes in the neural tissue. This results in functional neurological deficit that exceeds the actual tissue disruption. This condition is referred to as spinal shock.
The presence of spinal shock causes the absence of all reflexes. And it typically lasts upto 24- 48 hours after the injury.
The bulbocavernous reflex is the reflex that returns first, thus marking the end of spinal shock
This point has prognostic importance because recovery from a complete neurological deficit that is still present at the end of spinal shock is extremely unlikely. In other words, a total absence of sensation & voluntary motor functions caudal to the level of spinal cord injury in the absence of spinal shock (i.e. bulbocavernosus reflex has recovered) is indicative of complete spinal cord injury and there is virtually no likelihood of functional spinal cord recovery.
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