Many think of the spinal cord as a singular part of the body, but it’s actually composed of a column of nerves secured by 33 vertebrae. The spine can be divided into four distinct regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. Each of these regions protect different groups of nerves that control parts of the body. Understanding where the injury is located is instrumental in an individual’s diagnosis and treatment.
REGIONS OF THE SPINE
The head and neck region are affected by cervical spinal cord injuries.
The upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles are affected by injuries to the thoracic spinal cord.
The hips and legs are affected by lumbar spinal cord injuries.
The hips, back of the thighs, buttocks and pelvic organs are affected by injuries to the sacral spinal cord.
TYPES OF SPINAL CORD INJURIES
Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two types: incomplete and complete. An incomplete spinal cord injury is one in which the injured party still has functioning body parts located below the affected body part. A complete spinal cord injury is one in which the injured cannot move anything below the body part that was affected.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
More than 60 percent of all injuries to the spinal cord are incomplete. Medical professionals are familiar with proper ways to treat this type of injury to avoid further complications. The three common types of incomplete spinal injuries including Anterior Cord Syndrome, Central Cord Syndrome, and Brown-Sequard Syndrome.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
Although complete spinal cord injuries are less common, they are more severe. There are three types of complete spinal cord injuries include Tetraplegia, Paraplegia, and Triplegia. The most severe type of complete spinal cord injury is Tetraplegia, which causes paralysis and can affect all limbs. Paraplegia involves the injured losing complete movement and sensation of body parts.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
When a patient first visits the emergency room, physicians should test the individual to see if there is any movement or sensation at or below the level of injury. If it is determined there is no movement or sensation, emergency medical tests for a spinal cord injury will be conducted. These could include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), or plane X-rays that show the planes of bone on bone.
Brad says, “Injuries to the spine aren’t always obvious. Until a thorough examination of the spine is done at a hospital or trauma center, people who might have spine injury should be cared for as if they have significant damage. As a precaution, at the accident scene EMTs should immobilize the head and neck to prevent movement.”
Fractured vertebrae, bone fragments, herniated discs, or other objects compressing the spine may need to be surgically removed. Spinal decompression surgery to relieve pressure within the spinal column also may be necessary in the days after injury. Surgery that is done early on, in many cases, is associated with better recovery.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) by the Numbers
17,730 – new SCI cases every year
291,0000 – approximate number of people in the U.S. living with SCI
43 – average age at time of injury
78 – percentage of new SCI cases that are male
39.3 – percentage of SCI cases caused by vehicle crashes
31.8 – percentage of SCI cases caused by falls
13.5 – percentage of SCI cases caused by violence (primarily gunshot wounds
If you've been in a car, truck or other accident and are suffering from spinal cord injuries, we would be honored to hear your story and see how we can help you seek justice and compensation. Fill out our contact form or call our office at 817-440-3888 for a free meeting with our attorneys.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.