Car crashes and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Damage to the nerves of the spinal cord affect the injured person’s ability to control motor, sensory and autonomic functions below the site of the injury. They are devastating injuries that usually cause some sort of permanent paralysis that changes the life of the injured person forever.

The bones of the spine support the head and enclose the spinal cord. The spine is comprised of 26 individual bones called vertebrae, organized into four major sections. The vertebrae as well as the nerves within each group are numbered. When classifying a spinal cord injury, some doctors talk about the location of the injury in relationship to the vertebrae location and number. Others talk about the nerve location and nerve number to describe the damage.

Starting at the top of the spinal cord, the sections are as follows:

  • Cervical – Cervical injuries occur in the neck, which contains seven cervical vertebrae. The vertebrae are labeled C1 – C7 and the cervical nerves are labeled C1 – C8. Spinal cord injuries that occur in the neck generally cause loss of function or paralysis in the chest, arms and legs. Cervical injuries may also affect breathing.
  • Thoracic - Thoracic injuries take place in the chest area, which contains 12 thoracic vertebrae and 12 thoracic nerves. Both the vertebrae and nerves are labeled T1 – T12. Thoracic spinal cord injuries usually cause loss of function or paralysis in the chest and legs. Injuries to the upper thoracic area can also affect breathing.
  • Lumbar - Lumbar injuries occur in the lower back. This region contains five lumbar vertebrae and five lumbar nerves, both labeled L1 – L5. Lumbar injuries usually affect the hips and legs.
  • Sacral – Sacral injuries occur between the pelvis and the end of the spine. The sacral area contains five sacral vertebrae and five sacral nerves, both labeled S1 – S5. Spinal cord injuries in the sacral area generally affect the hips and legs.

Spinal cord injuries are often classified by the spinal column section and vertebrae number where the injury occurred. This gives doctors and patients a common framework in which to discuss expected outcomes and remaining spinal cord function.  Have you or someone you love suffered a spinal cord injury or other serious injury due to the negligence of another party? Contact me, Bastrop car crash lawyer David Todd, at 512-472-7799 for a free case review.  You can also download a free copy of my book The Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Texas Accident Case for more information.

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