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What Are the Levels of Spinal Cord Injury?

January 3, 2024Other Personal Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are some of the most serious injuries that a person can endure, often resulting in significant and lasting changes to their abilities. However, not every spinal cord injury is the same in terms of severity or impact on daily life. The characteristics of the injury, such as its location and whether it is complete or incomplete, play a crucial role in determining the level of physical function that can be retained or recovered.

Complete versus Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Medical professionals classify spinal cord injuries into two types: complete and incomplete. In a complete spinal cord injury, there is a total loss of function below the site of the injury. This means the affected patient experiences no movement or sensation in the areas controlled by the spinal cord below the injury point, with both sides of the body affected equally.

In contrast, an incomplete spinal cord injury involves some degree of function below the injury site. This may manifest as partial movement in certain limbs, uneven function across the body, or some sensation in affected areas. The distinction between complete and incomplete injuries is critical, as it significantly influences treatment options and recovery prospects.

The Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries Based on Location

The level of a spinal cord injury is determined by the section of the spine that is affected: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacral. Each section corresponds to different nerve groups that control various parts of the body.

  • Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries: These injuries occur in the neck region and involve the top seven vertebrae (C-1 to C-7). Being closest to the brain, these injuries often result in tetraplegia or quadriplegia, leading to limited or no movement and sensation below the shoulders or neck area.
  • Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries: These affect the upper and middle back, encompassing twelve vertebrae (T-1 to T-12). Injuries in this region typically impact the upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles, but usually spare arm and hand functions.
  • Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries: These injuries involve the lower back, where the spinal cord carries the most weight. Affecting the L1-L5 vertebrae, lumbar injuries may require the use of a wheelchair or braces as they primarily affect the hips and legs.
  • Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries: Located at the bottom of the spine, sacral injuries affect the hips, back of the thighs, buttocks, and pelvic organs. People with these injuries are most likely to retain their ability to walk.

Seeking Justice After a Spinal Injury in Georgia

Experiencing a spinal cord injury can be a life-changing event, often bringing with it substantial medical expenses, loss of income, and significant lifestyle adjustments. In cases where the injury is due to another’s negligence, you have the right to seek justice. In Georgia, you can pursue legal claims against the responsible party, whether they are a motor vehicle driver, negligent doctor, property owner, or any other liable entity.

A Georgia spinal cord injury attorney can help you understand your legal options and advocate aggressively for your right to compensation. They will meticulously investigate your case, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies or represent you in court. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury, don’t hesitate to reach out to an Augusta spinal cord injury attorney who can fight for the compensation that you deserve.