Levels of Spinal Injury

Spinal cord injuries have devastating potential. Vertebrae are grouped into sections, and the level of injury depends on which section has been affected. The three sections are characterized by cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae.

There are eight cervical vertebrae. These are the highest on the spinal cord, and are denoted as C1-C8. The highest degree of injury severity is when C1-C4 nerves are damaged. Such an injury is quadriplegia, meaning that that the arms, hands, trunk, and legs are all paralyzed. Below C1-C4 are C5-C8. When these nerves are damaged, control of the arms and hands is inhibited.

The next section of vertebrae is includes the thoracic vertebrae. There are 12 vertebrae in section, known as T1-T12. People with thoracic nerve injury may still control upper parts of the body, however the trunk and legs are often affected. Paraplegia can be caused by these injuries, however patients can learn to drive a modified car or possibly walk with braces.

Individuals whose lumbar nerves have been damaged can experience partial loss of control in the hips and legs, and partial or full loss of control of the bladder and bowel. However, there is special equipment that those affected can use to remain independent.

The last sections of the vertebral column are the sacrum and coccyx. The coccyx is commonly known as the tail bone, and each section is fused. Injury to the sacrum has the same implications as an injury to lumbar nerves, however patients higher chance of being able to walk.

Spinal damages result from a variety of incidents, including car accidents, falls, gunshots, sports games, or medical diseases. There is special equipment for the majority of those affected by paralysis that aims to increase ability and independence.