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What types of spinal cord injuries are there?

Your spinal cord is actually a complex bundle of nerves that are protected by a myelin sheath and the vertebrae that line your back. Because those nerves go to different parts of your body, not all spinal injuries have the same effect.

Knowing more about which region of the spinal cord is affected by accidental trauma is often the best way to understand what lies ahead and what to expect from treatment. Here are the basic areas in which spinal cord injuries occur:

1. The sacral spinal region

These injuries are near the bottom of the spine and are protected by the bones numbered S1 to S5. Nerves damaged in this area can affect the victim’s groin, buttocks, back thighs and hips.

2. The lumbar spinal area

Injuries in the lumbar region are somewhat higher and are protected by the bones labeled L1 through L5. Injuries in this area usually affect a person’s mobility to some degree. They may also be unable to control their bowel or bladder.

3. The thoracic spinal area

Injuries to a victim’s thoracic area, in the area protected by the bones labeled T1 through T12, can have a wide range of problems. Generally speaking, the higher the damage, the less functional the individual’s body will remain. The abdominal area, back and chest may all be affected. Victims are typically left in a wheelchair.

4. The cervical spinal region

A cervical spinal cord injury results in the most severe conditions. Depending on where the injury occurs (between the C1 bone and the C8 bone), the victim may be left with some ability to move his or her arms or shoulders or completely paralyzed and unable to breathe without a ventilator.

Spinal cord injuries are among the most catastrophic accidental injuries of all. If you or your loved one has been injured, it’s important to understand all of your legal options. You may need a lifetime of support, so don’t leave your fate in the hands of an insurance company adjuster.

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