What Are the Different Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries?

Posted: Mar 01, 2017 11:00 AM

Spinal cord injuries are often debilitating, and the higher on the spine the injury occurs, the more severe the damage typically is. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are roughly 17,000 new spinal cord injuries every year, and medical malpractice is responsible for at least 5 percent of those.


The effects of a spinal injury range from decreased mobility to total paralysis. Such injuries also take a financial toll on victims and their families, and damages might include medical bills, physical therapy costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


If you sustained a spinal cord injury at the hands of a negligent doctor, you should not have to cover the costs on your own. Your medical malpractice attorney from the Law Office of Randolph C. Wood, PLLC can help you explore your options for pursuing compensation. Call 601-709-3584 to schedule an initial consultation, and read on to learn more about spinal cord injuries:


What Are the Different Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries?


According to WebMD, the vertebral column has three main curves with five regions that contain 33 total vertebrae. The cervical curve contains seven cervical vertebrae. C1 is the vertebra closest to the head, and C7 is the vertebra lower on the spine.


The thoracic curve contains 12 thoracic vertebrae, and the lumbar curve contains five lumbar vertebrae and five sacral vertebrae. The coccyx is located at the bottom of the spine and is the fifth region. It contains four vertebrae.


The severity of a spinal cord injury depends on a variety of factors, including where the damage actually occurred. Injuries to the cervical vertebrae are typically far more debilitating than nerve damage in the lumbar or sacral regions.


High Cervical Nerves


The most debilitating spinal cord injuries occur in C1 to C4. Damage to the high cervical nerves can result in quadriplegia, and patients with such injuries typically require around-the-clock care. They may not be able to control bladder or bowel function, and sometimes they cannot even breathe on their own and require a ventilator.


Low Cervical Nerves


People with damage in the low cervical nerves may be able to breathe on their own and speak normally, but they may not be able to control their arms or hands. For example, an injury to C5 may cause paralysis in the wrists, hands, legs, and trunk, and the patient may need help with most daily activities.


A patient with a C7 injury might be able to handle simple tasks themselves but will need help with more complicated tasks. Such injuries might also result in the loss of bladder or bowel control, but it can be manageable with special equipment.


Thoracic Nerves


The nerves that correspond to the thoracic vertebrae affect muscles in the chest, back, and abdomen. An injury to these nerves will not usually affect arm and hand function, but it may affect the legs and trunk, resulting in paraplegia.


Lumbar Nerves


Nerve damage in the lumbar region typically results in some loss of function in the legs and hips. Depending on the extent of the damage, patients may be able to walk with the help of braces, but some people with lumbar nerve damage will require a wheelchair.


Sacral Nerves


People with sacral nerve damage are typically still able to walk, but they may experience some loss of function in the legs and hips. They may also experience a lack of bladder control.


If you sustained a spinal cord injury during a surgical procedure and think you might have a valid malpractice claim, turn to a medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Office of Randolph C. Wood, PLLC. Call 601-709-3584 to schedule an initial consultation with Randolph C. Wood, your Jackson medical malpractice attorney.