Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

 

Ambulance emt stretcherWhen the bony protection surrounding the spinal cord is damaged, a spinal cord injury occurs. This damage can happen by way of fractures, dislocation, burst, compression, hyperextension or hyperflexion. The injuries that result go by the terms cauda equina, conus medularis, central and anterior cord syndrome, or Brown-Sequard syndrome.

The location of a spinal cord injury determines which parts of the body are affected. After a thorough examination, a doctor will assign a level of injury and determine if the injury is incomplete or complete. An incomplete injury means that the spinal cord still has some ability to convey messages to or from the brain, and that some sensation and movement is possible below the point of injury. A complete injury indicates a total loss of sensory and motor function below injury site.

It is possible that the level of injury and function can change upon discharge to rehabilitation. These are general guidelines, and individual outcomes may vary.

Cervical level (C1-C8) injuries cause paralysis or weakness in both arms and legs, called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. All body regions below the injury site or top of the back may be affected. This type of injury can be accompanied by loss of physical sensation, respiratory issues, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. It may be necessary to fit cervical level injury patients with a brace to help stabilize the very flexible neck region.

Because of the protection afforded by the rib cage, Thoracic Spinal Cord (T1-T12) injuries are less common. These injuries do not usually affect the arms and hands, but can cause paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia), loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. Because this area of the spinal cord controls signals to some of the muscles of the back and abdomen, most patients initially wear a stabilizing brace on the trunk.

Lumbar Spinal Cord (L1-L5) injuries result in paraplegia and sometimes loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the lower parts of the abdomen and back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs and parts of the leg, and often requires surgery and external stabilization.

The Sacral area (S1-S5) of the spinal cord controls signals to the thighs, lower legs, feet and genital organs. Sacral level injuries can cause weakness or paralysis of the hips and legs causing bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction.

Greg-GoldIf you or someone you love has suffered from a spinal cord injury after an accident you will need an experienced and compassionate Colorado personal injury attorney to handle your case. At the Gold Law Firm, we work hard to achieve the maximum compensation for all of our clients. Contact Gregory A. Gold of the Gold Law Firm today for a free consultation at (303) 694-4653.

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