The Different Levels of a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are one of the most devastating types of injuries because more often than not, spinal cord damage cannot be reversed. Here are the different levels of a spinal cord injury and how they affect the body, as well as what you should do next if you or a loved one suffered this kind of critical injury.


Injuries to the Cervical Spine



Injuries to the first four vertebrae underneath the skull can result in complete paralysis, loss of bowel and bladder control, the inability to breathe independently, the inability to speak, and the need for 24-hour care and help with basic daily activities like bathing, getting dressed, and eating.



A person with an injury to C5-C8 vertebrae will still generally be paralyzed, but may retain some control over their wrists, elbows, and arms. They may be able to speak and breathe on their own, although breathing may be difficult. They may be able to move independently in a powered wheelchair and use the bathroom on their own with special medical devices.


Injuries to the Thoracic Spine




A person with injury to the upper thoracic vertebrae may retain autonomy over their arms and hands, but will typically be paralyzed from the waist down. They may be able to use a motorized and manual wheelchair and in many cases can drive with the use of a specialized vehicle. Abdominal muscles may be affected though, making it difficult to cough or move their body in certain ways.




Individuals with lower thoracic spine injuries will also be paralyzed from the waist down but retain most normal movement in their upper body. They too will have the ability to use a wheelchair and drive a modified car, but will need assistance or special equipment to use a bathroom.


Injuries to the Lumbar Spine




A person who has been injured in the lumbar spine area will typically have a loss of feeling and movement in the legs and hips. They may have little control over their bladder or bowels, but typically can use special equipment to go to the bathroom independently. These individuals may be able to walk with braces.


Injuries to the Sacrum


Injuries to the sacrum may not reduce an individual’s ability to walk, but may still affect the ability to control bladder and bowel movements. Some loss of function in the legs and hips is expected.


Contact a Fresno Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today


if you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury or are caring for a loved one who has, you may be able to obtain financial restitution if the cause of the injury was carelessness or negligence. Contact a Fresno spinal cord injury lawyer now at the Law Offices of Carl L. Brown today by calling (559) 431-4400.