Spinal Cord Function And Important Parts


The spinal cord is a part of the human body that has an important role. This is because the spinal cord has functions related to the nervous system. So, what are the functions of the spinal cord?

Read on to find out more information about the spinal cord including its functions and parts.

What is the spinal cord?

The spinal cord is the part that fills the cavity of the vertebrae. The width of the spinal cord is only the size of an adult's little finger. The spinal cord is also called the spinal cord.

Besides the brain, the spinal cord is part of the central nervous system. So, along with the brain, the spinal cord has a role to carry out central nervous system functions.

If the brain is protected by the skull, the spinal cord is protected by vertebrae. Initially, the length of the vertebrae is the same as the length of the spinal cord.

However, along with the growth period, the vertebrae segments grow faster so that they are longer than the spinal cord. The length of the spinal cord becomes 2/3 of the length of the vertebrae.

Function Of Human Spinal Cord

The brain and spinal cord are two parts of the organs of the central nervous system. Similar to the brain which has several functions, the spinal cord also has several different functions.

The following are some of the spinal cord functions that you need to know:

1. Collect and send information to the brain

The first function of the spinal cord is to collect information from the nervous system that is protected by vertebrae. The information is then sent to the brain to be processed and responded.

2. Receiving messages from the brain

The spinal cord does not only function to send messages to the brain but also receive messages or commands from the brain. Communication between the two parts of the central nervous system is indeed going both ways.

3. Become a shortcut for reflexes

The function of the spinal cord is also the shortest path of reflex. There is a condition where the mechanism of the nervous system is demanded to require rapid response. An example is when the hand is hit by a spark or a finger is punctured by a needle.

All of these conditions require a shorter mechanism for traveling nerve impulses than the mechanism for conscious motion. The journey of nerve impulses to reflexes is not through the brain but to the spinal cord.

The conscious motion does not experience information processing in the brain as a conscious movement. This is what makes the body quickly respond to sensory stimuli in shocking conditions.

4. Distribute commands to motor nerves

In reflexes, stimuli received by sensory cells will send messages quickly to the spinal cord. The function of the spinal cord after getting a message is to send it to the motor nerves.

Motor nerves will continue to the motion organs or also called effectors. The organs of body movement are the muscles and endocrine glands. This is what makes the muscles move.

Muscle movement is what makes the human body movements. So, not the bone that moves but the muscle that moves the bone. Muscle is an active means of movement, while bone is a passive movement because it cannot move on its own.

Parts Of The Spinal Cord

The spinal cord has several important parts that can support it to carry out its functions. There are several important parts found in the spinal cord.

Below are some parts of the spinal cord:

1. Gracia substance

The substance of Gracia is a layer in the spinal cord that has a gray color. Looks like Gracia substance has four "arms". Actually, the four 'arms' consist of two dorsal horns and two ventral horns.

In the gray substance, it also consists of soma cells that contain neurites or axons that are not covered by the myelin membrane. This is the reason why this inner layer is gray. In the Gracia substance, there is also a central canal in the middle.

2. Alba substance

The substance of the alba is the outer layer of the spinal cord. In this section, there are axons or associated nerve fibers wrapped by myelin membranes. This myelin membrane makes a white substance.

The nerve fibers present in the alba substance are extensions of cell soma which are present in Gracia substances. Furthermore, these nerve fibers are associated with two roots, dorsal root, and a ventral root.

At the dorsal root, there are nerve fibers which are unipolar sensory neurons, while nerve fibers in the ventral root are multipolar motor neurons. The dorsal root functions to receive receptors from the outside and the ventral root commands the effector.

What Happens If The Spinal Cord Has A Problem?

The spinal cord has indeed been protected by hard bones, namely the vertebrae. However, it could be an event such as an accident that causes the spine to get injured so that the spinal cord is also damaged.

Damage to the spinal cord will cause interference with the reception of sensory stimuli and delivery of commands to the motor nerve. This also means there will be obstacles to reflexes. The body becomes not fast acting when experiencing a sudden event such as burning fire, needle pricking, and others.


However, you don't need to have excessive anxiety about the possibility of spinal cord disorders. This is because there are already several treatments that can restore the function of the spinal cord gradually.

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