As a Florida driver, no one need tell you that unfavorable weather and/or traffic conditions can turn the roads into dangerous places. Accidents can happen so quickly that you have no chance of preventing them. Unfortunately, the injuries you risk in any car crash can be extremely serious. This is never truer than if you sustain a spinal cord injury.
An SCI represents a devastating and life-changing event. Not only will it likely leave you unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, but you could lose all sensation and voluntary movement below the point of your injury. To understand the possible consequences of an SCI, you first need to understand the regions of your back where a devastating injury can occur.
Regions of your back
Health care professionals divide your spinal cord and the vertebrae that surround it into the following five regions:
- Seven vertebrae in your cervical (neck) region
- 12 vertebrae in your thoracic (upper back) region
- Five vertebrae in your lumbar (middle back) region
- Five fused vertebrae in your sacral (lower back) region
- Four fused vertebrae in your coccyx (tailbone) region
The paralysis that results from an SCI extends downward from the point of your injury.
When you sustain an SCI to either your lumbar or lower thoracic region, you become a paraplegic. As such, you likely will need a wheelchair to move around because your legs and feet will not move, leaving you unable to walk. You may also lose all sensation below the point of your injury, plus the ability to control your bladder and bowel.
When you sustain an SCI to either your cervical or upper thoracic region, you become a quadriplegic. As such, virtually your entire body becomes paralyzed. You consequently will need constant care from others to perform such everyday tasks as getting in and out of bed, bathing, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, dressing, etc. A cervical SCI could even result in your need for constant mechanical ventilation to breathe.