The spinal cord is one of the most important components of our organism that we have, since thanks to it our brain and the rest of our body are constantly in communication.

Now, what if this one gets damaged? One of the consequences of a spinal cord injury is Brown Sequard Syndrome , which we will discuss throughout this article, as well as its symptoms, causes and possible treatments.

What is Brown Sequard Syndrome?

Brown Sequard syndrome is a condition first described in 1849 by physiologist and neurologist Edouard Brown-Sequard ; it is distinguished by a series of very specific neurological symptoms caused by an injury to the spinal cord. Specifically, this injury refers to a medullary hemisection that generally damages the lateral half.

As a result, the person suffering from Brown Sequard syndrome experiences muscle weakness, numbness and paralysis that may differ from person to person and the loss of sensation of different areas of the body.

These effects tend to occur in active motor function below the point on the spinal cord where the injury is located. In addition, the area affected by the paralysis is also located on the same side as the spinal cord damage.

In order to better understand how this syndrome affects the person who suffers it, it is necessary to first clarify that the spinal cord is an essential component of the nervous system, which is responsible for collecting and transmitting sensory and motor information from the various areas of the body, as well as from the main brain nuclei. To do this, it uses the nerves that are born along it.

Therefore, if the person suffers a trauma, or experiences the development of a tumor mass in the medulla that causes this hemisection, then it is possible that this Brown Sequard syndrome appears and has consequences such as these sensory alterations and pathologies associated with muscle fragility and paralysis.


The incidence of Brown Sequard syndrome is quite low, hence it is categorized as a rare disease . Worldwide, only 30 to 40 cases of this disorder appear per million people. Furthermore, research shows that it affects more women than men, with the age group most affected being those between 16 and 30. However, the average age of patients suffering from this syndrome is about 40 years.

What are the symptoms?

Although the symptomatology may differ from patient to patient depending on how high up the spine the injury is, generally the symptoms will be concentrated in three distinct categories: muscle weakness and paralysis, sensory perception and proprioception.

1. Muscle weakness and paralysis

As a consequence of the medullary hemisection characteristic of Brown Sequard syndrome, the person tends to experience important alterations in motor activities at an ipsilateral level. That is, in one of the two halves of the body.

The main motor symptoms associated with this syndrome are

  • Hemiparesis or reduced mobility of one half of the body.
  • Hemiplegia or absolute paralysis of one half of the body .
  • .

  • Bladder problems and loss of bladder control
  • Bowel problems.
  • Muscle atrophy and weakening
  • Problems in the ability to walk.
  • Functional dependence.

2. Proprioception

Proprioception is the sense that is responsible for informing our body of the position of our muscles . That is to say, of our posture. Thanks to it we can be aware of and manage our movements and automatic reactions.

When this sitting is affected, in this case by Brown Sequard syndrome, the person experiences a decline in this bodily capacity.

3. Sensory perception

The main effects of Brown Sequard syndrome on the ability of sensory perception are the following symptoms:

  • Hypoalgesia or loss of pain sensitivity against the affected area.
  • Hypesthesia or decreased sensation .
  • .

  • Loss of sensitivity to temperature changes
  • Ipsilateral loss of sensitivity to vibratory stimuli.

What are the causes of this syndrome?

There are many factors that can cause a spinal cord injury . However, the most common cause that triggers Brown Sequard syndrome is a traumatic injury to the spine or neck.

As a rule, these injuries are usually the result of fractures or dislocations from a fall or blow, or even from some kind of gunshot injury. However, there are other causes related to the hospital environment. These refer to setbacks in surgery or damage when the spinal fluid drainage catheter is removed.

As for the causes or organic alterations that may lead to this syndrome are included:

  • Herniated disks.
  • Tumors.
  • Transverse myelitis.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Radiation .
  • .

  • Tuberculosis.
  • Epidural hematoma.
  • Drug use .
  • Bleeding.
  • Syphilis.
  • Herpes simplex.
  • Ischemia .
  • Ossifications.
  • Meningitis.

Treatment and prognosis

For the moment no specific treatment has been developed for Brown Sequard syndrome , so the medical and healthcare personnel take an individualized approach for each patient suffering from it.

However, there are a number of general or common guidelines that consist of keeping the patient in a state of immobility in order to prevent further damage linked to a series of interventions and surgical repairs.

On the other hand, the treatment also is accompanied by the administration of a series of analgesic drugs and corticosteroids to reduce the remaining symptoms of Brown Sequard.

Finally, these treatments are accompanied by physiotherapeutic rehabilitation to sustain muscle tone and strength, as well as occupational rehabilitation to restore the person’s functional independence lost during the course of the disease.

The prognosis of Brown syndrome is usually favorable as long as treatment is started. As a general rule more than 50% of patients tend to restore their motor capacity throughout the first year.