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What Are the Levels of Spinal Cord Injury?

What Are the Levels of Spinal Cord Injury?The spinal cord is the information superhighway of your body. It carries messages to and from the brain, telling your body how and when to function. When people hear the words “spinal injury,” their first thoughts typically go to the worst-case scenario—wheelchair-bound and/or complete paralysis. However, there are several levels of spinal cord injuries (SCI), with a wide range of symptoms and outcomes. The many spinal cord injury and rehabilitation centers in the Atlanta area can help patients with their specific types of injuries.

Types and levels of SCIs

SCIs are classified into types and levels. First, there are two types of spinal cord injuries. A complete injury means there is no function below the site of the injury. The patient has neither movement nor sensation, and both sides of the body are affected equally. With an incomplete injury, the patient has some function below the site of the injury. They may have feeling in some parts of the body, more movement in one limb than the other, or more function on one side of the body.

The levels of SCIs are more in-depth. Typically, the higher a spinal injury occurs, the more catastrophic the injury. The levels of the spine in descending order are cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. Typical ranges of injury include the following.

  • C2 to C3 injuries: Cut off breathing and are usually fatal
  • C4: Require a ventilator and result in quadriplegia
  • C5: Quadriplegia but with some shoulder and elbow function
  • C6: Quadriplegia but with some shoulder, elbow, and wrist function
  • C7: Quadriplegia but with some shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand function
  • C8: Quadriplegia with arm function and hand weakness
  • T1–T6: Paraplegia with full function of arms but loss of function below mid-chest
  • T6–T12: Paraplegia control of torso but loss of function below waist
  • L1–L5: Paraplegia with varying control of muscles in the legs

Spinal cord injuries can cause other symptoms like loss of bladder control, muscle spasticity, problems breathing, heart and blood pressure issues, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, and chronic pain. Many SCI patients also suffer from depression.

The Reeve Foundation estimates over 1.2 million Americans currently live with paralysis from a spinal cord injury, with more than half of these injuries occurring in the cervical region. The most common causes are car accidents, sports injuries, falls, and violence. Most of these people are male and in their teens or twenties.

SCIs demand lifelong, continuous treatment. They can throw your world into chaos and put strain on your life as well as your family’s lives. The lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP understand the intricacies of this type of injury and the long-term implications of medical care. We provide you with compassionate and experienced representation. Call us today at 404-961-7650 at our Atlanta office, or in Savannah at 912-651-9967, or fill out our contact form.

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