Cervical cord injuries caused during American football games have resulted in reversible, incompletely reversible, and irreversible neurologic deficits. An explanation for this variable response to injury has been obtained from the study of the histochemical responses of a squid axon injury model to mechanical deformation. Data obtained indicate that recovery or lack thereof is directly proportional to the intracellular calcium concentration which in turn is directly proportional to the amount and rate of tension applied to the axon. It is concluded that in most instances of acute spinal injury, disruption of cord function is a result of the effects of local cord anoxia and the increased concentration of intracellular calcium. It is proposed that implementation of therapeutic measures that restore blood flow and reduce cytosolic calcium will increase neurologic recovery.