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The location of spinal cord injuries determines the effects

Spinal cord injuries from accidents can be very serious. The level of the injury in relation to the spine is one factor that determines the severity of the effects. It is important for anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury and those who have a loved one who suffered one understand how the level of the spinal cord can affect the victim.

Generally, the lower in the spinal cord the injury is, the less the dysfunction that will occur. The lumbar and sacral areas are the lowest in the spine. If these areas are injured, the legs can be affected. The bladder and bowel can also be affected. Generally, spinal cord injuries at these levels can be managed with special accommodations.

Just above the lumbar area is the thoracic area. There are two sections to this area, T1 to T5 and T6 to T12. Injuries to these areas can lead to paraplegia. In some cases, the victim will be able to use a wheelchair and some people might be able to drive a modified car. The chest, back, abdomen, and legs might be affected, depending on where in the thoracic spine the injury occurs.

The cervical spine is located at the top of the spine. This area is divided into two sections: The high-cervical area is from C1 to C4 and the low-cervical area is C5 to C8. Injuries to the high-cervical area are the most severe and can lead to quadriplegia. Generally, a person with an injury to this area requires around-the-clock care, can't drive a vehicle, and might have serious complications like difficulty breathing or speech problems. Injuries to the low-cervical area aren't as serious, but can cause weakened breathing and paralysis. Some people with low-cervical injuries can drive a modified vehicle and move around in a motorized wheelchair.

As you can imagine, the cost of caring for a person with a spinal cord injury can be expensive. You have the right to seek compensation if you want to try to lessen the financial difficulties associated with the person's care.

Source: Shepherd Center, "Understanding Spinal Cord Injury," accessed June 05, 2015

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