What effects can a spinal cord injury have on a person?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Personal Injury |

Car crashes and other accidents can lead to spinal cord injuries. These are sometimes catastrophic injuries that can dramatically alter a person’s life. The effects of a spinal cord injury affect the area below the damage and are based on the type and severity of the injury.

The spinal cord is a complex structure that is crucial in transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body. It is divided into segments corresponding to the vertebrae: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal. Each segment controls different body functions and areas, meaning that damage at various levels can result in distinct effects.

Cervical spinal cord injuries

The cervical region of the spinal cord, located in the neck, has eight segments (C1-C8). Injuries to this part of the spinal cord can result in the most severe outcomes because they may affect the function of the arms, legs and even the ability to breathe independently. Damage closer to the C1-C4 level may require the individual to use ventilatory assistance, while injuries at the C5-C8 level typically result in varying degrees of control over the arms and hands.

Thoracic spinal cord injuries

The thoracic spinal cord has twelve segments (T1-T12) and controls the chest, some back muscles and parts of the abdomen. Injuries in the thoracic region often affect the abdominal and lower back muscles and can impact the function of the trunk and legs. Individuals with thoracic spinal cord injuries usually retain the use of their hands and arms, allowing them to perform many daily activities independently.

Lumbar spinal cord injuries

The lumbar spinal cord includes five segments (L1-L5) and primarily controls the hips and legs. Injuries to this area can result in loss of function in the hips and legs, affecting the ability to walk. Individuals with lumbar spinal cord injuries may be able to use a wheelchair or even walk with braces.

Sacral spinal cord injuries

The sacral spinal cord includes five segments (S1-S5) and controls the groin, toes and parts of the legs. Damage to the sacral region can lead to loss of bowel and bladder control, sexual dysfunction and weakness or paralysis of the legs. However, people with sacral spinal cord injuries often retain the ability to walk.

Living with a spinal cord injury can be a costly undertaking because a victim may need a great deal of ongoing medical care, significant modifications to their home and vehicle, etc. If an individual’s injuries resulted from another’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, working with a legal representative who can help them to navigate the claim process may be beneficial.