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What should you know about spinal cord injuries?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2024 | Catastrophic Injuries/Wrongful Death

Spinal cord injuries can have major impacts on a person’s life. Whether the injury is complete or incomplete is one of the determining factors in how these injuries are approached. A complete injury is less likely to result in a full recovery than an incomplete injury because all nerve pathways are severed in a complete injury.

The level of a spinal cord injury is one of the primary factors that determines how someone will be impacted by it. Typically, injuries higher on the spine are more likely to impact a bigger area of the body and result in more effects.

Cervical spine

The cervical spine is located in the neck. These are some of the most severe because they’re so high on the spinal cord. They can cause paralysis of all four limbs, which is known as quadriplegia. Victims may also suffer from an inability to breathe, speak or regulate their heart rate. Some have issues with blood pressure regulation. These victims may need a ventilator to breathe. Mobility is often severely limited. The victims may need assistance with everything they do, including daily life activities.

Thoracic spinal cord injuries

Thoracic spinal cord injuries affect the upper and mid-back regions, typically involving vertebrae T1 through T12. This type of injury often results in paraplegia, with paralysis generally affecting the lower parts of the body. Individuals may retain use of their arms and hands, allowing for greater independence in daily activities compared to those with cervical injuries. They often require assistive devices for mobility, such as wheelchairs, and modifications to living spaces to accommodate their physical limitations.

Lumbar spinal cord injuries

Injuries to the lumbar region, involving the lower back, can result in varying degrees of impairment in the hips and legs. Some individuals may be able to walk with braces or other assistive devices, while others might require a wheelchair. These injuries typically allow for more independence in personal care and mobility compared to thoracic and cervical injuries. Rehabilitation focuses on strengthening the upper body to compensate for lower body limitations and on achieving maximum functional independence.

Sacral spinal cord injuries

Sacral spinal cord injuries impact the pelvic region, including the hips, back of the thighs, buttocks, and pelvic organs. While these injuries generally allow individuals to walk, they may experience difficulty with bowel and bladder control and sexual function. The impact on mobility can vary, but most individuals retain more function and independence compared to higher-level injuries. Rehabilitation often involves learning strategies to manage bowel and bladder function and addressing sexual health concerns to improve quality of life.

Spinal cord injury victims often need extensive medical care, which can be costly. Seeking compensation from at-fault parties – when possible and appropriate – can help them to offset those costs, but these matters can be complicated. Having a legal representative to assist with the case may be beneficial as a result.