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There are four segments of the spinal cord: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Each segment of the spine protects various groups of nerves that manage the body. The kinds of spinal cord injuries and their varying degrees of seriousness are dependent on which section of the spinal cord has been injured.

Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

The Cervical part of the spine is found at the top part of the spinal cord, made up of seven vertebrae, C1 through C7, in the neck.  

Being closer in proximity to the brain and impacting a more substantial portion of the body, cervical spinal cord injuries are usually the most critical kinds of injury to the spinal cord. If an injury occurs to the cervical area, it will result in tetraplegia/quadriplegia, signifying there is restricted feeling or movement, or absent feeling or movement below the neck and shoulders. 

General Effects of Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Cervical spine injuries frequently involve lifelong partial or complete loss of sensory functions and other relevant difficulties. As is the problem with all injuries to the spinal cord, injuries positioned higher up on the spine will be more critical, with high cervical spinal cord injuries usually being fatal.

Cervical Spinal Cord Injury Recovery and Prognosis

After swelling in the spinal cord has gone down and any required surgery is completed, patients are able to stabilize and start the process of recovery. 

  • Rehabilitation will center on stabilization of the injured region of the spinal cord, but the majority of injuries are permanent.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids are given shortly after the injury, such as methylprednisolone, and will help decrease swelling, which is a frequent cause of secondary damage at the time of injury.
  • Recovery often will focus on learning to use the non-paralyzed parts of your body to recover differing levels of independence.
  • Most people who undergo a cervical spinal cord injury will need life-long, around-the-clock care for the rest of their lives.

Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury

The lumbar spine includes the lowest significant portion of the spinal cord, the five vertebrae, L1 through L5, underneath the thoracic region, and above the minor sacral spine region. The lumbar spine bears the most weight of any of the segments of the spinal cord and, as a result, has larger vertebrae than the cervical and thoracic regions of the spine.

Injuries to the spinal cord that occur within the five lumbar vertebrae commonly result in some loss of use of the legs and hips but will not impact the functionality of the upper body. 

General Effects of Injury to Lumbar Nerves (L-1 – L-5)

  • Injuries commonly result in some loss of some use of the legs and hips.
  • Those with injuries to the lumbar spinal cord will have little or no intentional control of their bladder or their bowels but will be able to handle things on their own with the help of specialized equipment
  • Depending on how much strength is in the legs, the victim might need a wheelchair or leg braces for mobility purposes. 
Spinal Nerve Affected:                     Specific Muscle Function Affected:
    L-1 and L-2 Hip bending and flexing
    L-3 Knee straightening
    L-4 Bend foot upward
    L-5 Extended toes


Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury Recovery and Prognosis

After swelling decreases and any urgent trauma surgery is completed, victims can start the healing process. 

  • The level and duration of rehabilitation will depend on which nerves were injured, the seriousness, and whether or not the injury was incomplete or complete.
  • While every injury to the spinal cord is critical, injuries to the lumbar region of the spinal cord are seldom life-threatening.
  • Most people who endure an injury to the lumbar region of their spinal cord are able to regain their mobility and independence with the support of rehabilitation programs and mobility-assistance accessories like leg braces and wheelchairs.

Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries

The thoracic spine is found in the middle and upper portion of the back. Twelve vertebrae are positioned in the thoracic spine and are numbered T-1 through T-12. Every number matches to a bundle of nerves in that area of the spinal cord:

  • Nerves T-1 through T-5 have to do with the upper chest, abdominal, and mid-back muscles. These muscles and nerves serve to control the lungs, rib cage, diaphragm and other muscles that help you breathe.
  • Nerves T-6 through T-12 have to do with the back and abdominal muscles. These muscles and nerves are essential for posture and balance. They also help you cough or otherwise discharge foreign material from your airway.

The thoracic spine is designed for stability and helps to keep the body erect. It joins the cervical spine, which is found in the neck, and the lumbar spine, which is found in the lower back.

General Effects of Injury to Thoracic Nerves – T-1 to T-5

  • Injuries usually affect the abdominal and lower back muscles and the legs, typically resulting in paraplegia.
  • Arm and hand function is usually normal.

General Effects of Injury to Thoracic Nerves – T-6 to T-12

  • The injury typically results in paraplegia.
  • Little or no voluntary control of bladder or bowels, but can operate independently with some special tools.
Thoracic Nerve Section Area of Body Affected
T-1 Hands and fingers
T-2 – T-5 Chest muscles
T-6 – T-8 Chest and abdominal muscles
T-9 – T-12 Abdominal muscles

Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury Prognosis and Recovery

Prognosis and rehabilitation after a thoracic spinal cord injury will vary from patient to patient. These differences are due to the kind of injury and the degree of severity.

A victim’s health also plays a role in determining the level of self-sufficiency obtained following an injury. This includes existing medical conditions, the patient’s body type and other injuries that may have taken place at the time as the injury to the spinal cord.

Victims who have suffered a thoracic spinal cord injury might be able to:

  • Have normal arm, hand, and upper-body movement.
  • Use a manual wheelchair.
  • Learn to drive a modified car.
  • Stand in a standing frame or walk with braces.

Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries

The sacral spine, also known as the sacrum, is found under the lumbar spine and above the coccyx, more commonly known as the tailbone. Five bones are fused together to comprise the triangle-shaped sacrum, and these bones are numbered S-1 through S-5. Every number matches to a bundle of nerves in that part of the spinal cord:

  • S1 nerves impact the groin and the hip region.
  • S2 nerves impact the backs of the thighs.
  • S3 nerves impact the medial buttock region.
  • S4 nerves impact the perineal region.

Pelvic organs are governed by the nerves in the sacral portion of the spine. These organs include the sex organs, bowels, and bladder.

General Effects of Injury to Sacral Nerves – S1 to S5

  • Injuries generally result in some loss of function in the hips and legs.
  • There may be little or no voluntary control of bowel or bladder organs, but people with this injury can manage on their own with special equipment.
  • People with a sacral spinal cord injury will most likely be able to walk.

Damage to the sacral spine is rare and may only occur with a serious injury, such as a fall or trauma directly to the area. People who have osteoporosis or arthritis may develop stress fractures in the sacrum. 

Sacral Spinal Cord Injury Prognosis and Recovery

Prognosis and recovery from a sacral spinal cord injury differ from patient to patient. The difference is due to the type of injury and the level of severity.

A patient’s health is also a factor in determining the level of independence achieved after an injury. This includes body type, existing medical conditions and other injuries that may have occurred at the time of the spinal cord injury.

If someone you love has suffered from a spinal cord injury as the result of another person’s negligence, then you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for damages. You need a reputable personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling these kinds of cases. 

If you are seeking legal representation for a pending lawsuit and you want an attorney who is esteemed, qualified, and knowledgeable in handling these sorts of injury cases, then the personal injury attorneys at the Injury Victim Law offices are just who you’re looking for.

If you would like a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys regarding a case you feel you may have, we are here to help. Please reach out to us by calling (800) 245-2774 to schedule your appointment for your free consultation today.







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