Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries can substantially impact on your quality of life and a serious spinal injury will often mean you require long-term comprehensive care, which will be costly. Many people who suffer spinal damage do so following an accident, perhaps at work or in a motor vehicle, and at JMW, our solicitors have the experience needed to secure the compensation these people deserve.

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Cervical (Neck) Vertebrae C1-C7

There are seven vertebrae and eight pairs of spinal nerves in the neck. The nerves in this region are responsible for enabling breathing, providing movement and controlling feeling in the head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands.

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Thoracic (Upper to Mid Back) Vertebrae T1-T12

There are twelve vertebrae and twelve pairs of spinal nerves in the upper to mid back connecting to muscles in the back, chest and upper abdomen.

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Lumbar (Lower Back) Vertebrae L1-L5M

There are five vertebrae and five pairs of spinal nerves in the lower back connecting to muscles in the thighs and legs.

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Sacrum (Pelvis) Vertebrae S1-S5

There are five vertebrae and five pairs of spinal nerves in the pelvis connecting to the buttocks, bladder, bowel, reproductive organs and parts of the legs and feet.

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Cervical (Neck) Vertebrae C1-C7

Complete Tetraplegia

Complete tetraplegia happens when the spinal cord in the cervical region is damaged, and is the most extreme form of paralysis, causing loss of function and sensation to the arms, body and legs. Tetraplegia is categorised by which vertebra in the cervical region has been damaged. For example, if the third vertebra is the site of the injury, it will be referred to as C3 tetraplegia.

The Effects of Complete Tetraplegia

The severity of the paralysis is determined by which part of the cord has been completely damaged. The higher the injury, the more severe the loss of function and sensation to the arms, body and legs. The effect on the body is determined by the type of tetraplegia caused by the injury.

C1

  • Complete paralysis of arms, body and legs
  • Severely limited movement of the head and neck
  • Aided breathing
  • Buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality

C2

  • Complete paralysis of arms, body and legs
  • Severely limited movement of the head and neck
  • Aided breathing
  • Buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality

C3

  • Complete paralysis of arms, body and legs
  • Severely limited movement of the head and neck
  • Aided breathing
  • Buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality

C4

  • Complete paralysis of body and legs but with limited arm function
  • Possible limited movement of the head and neck
  • Might be able to breathe without assistance
  • Buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality

C5

  • Complete paralysis of body and legs but with limited arm function
  • Ability to move the head and neck
  • Ability to move shoulders
  • Ability to breathe without assistance
  • Buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality

C6

  • Complete paralysis of body and legs but with limited arm function
  • Ability to move the head and neck
  • Ability to move shoulders
  • Ability to lift hands
  • Ability to breathe without assistance
  • Possible buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality

C7

  • Complete paralysis of body and legs but with limited arm function
  • Ability to move the head and neck
  • Ability to move shoulders
  • Ability to lift hands
  • Ability to breathe without assistance
  • Possible buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality
  • Partial finger movement, grip and mobility
  • May be capable of transferring body independently

C8

  • Complete paralysis of body and legs but with limited arm function
  • Ability to move the head and neck
  • Ability to move shoulders
  • Ability to lift hands
  • Ability to breathe without assistance
  • Possible buildup of waste in windpipe, assistance required with coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functionality
  • Ability to bend and straighten elbows
  • Partial finger movement, grip and mobility
  • May be capable of transferring body independently

There are many complications that can be caused by complete tetraplegia, ranging from mild to life-threatening, and although these may not always occur, it is important everything is done to minimise the chances. Possible conditions include:

  • Autonomic dysreflexia, which is when a person experiences a sudden and exceptional rise in blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease, which increases a person’s chances of suffering from a heart attack, angina or stroke
  • Deep vein thrombosis, which causes a blood clot
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Kidney stones, which can cause pain and problems in the urinary system
  • Osteoporosis, which causes bones to weaken making them more likely to break
  • Pneumonia
  • Pressure sores
  • Respiratory infection
  • Spasticity, which causes muscles to remain contracted

Recovering from Complete Tetraplegia

There is an extensive amount of care and assistance required following a diagnosis of complete tetraplegia. A tetraplegic will usually stay in the hospital for 6-8 months for rest and rehabilitation.

Following their hospital stay, a considerable amount of assistance will be required to help improve quality of life. C1-C4 tetraplegics usually require a lot of personal care and assistance, while individuals with some arm functionality may be able to perform daily activities with the help of assistive equipment.

There is a great selection of technologically advanced equipment, which can be operated by the mouth, chin or head, or by blinking. This includes breathing apparatus, powered wheelchairs, bionic limbs and automatic doors. In some cases, reconstructive hand surgery may be possible to help improve gripping and releasing.

Anterior Cord Syndrome

Anterior cord syndrome is caused by an impact that damages the artery that runs along the front of the spinal cord. This is usually done by a fragment of a bone or a slipped disc. This injury causes loss of strength below the point of injury and loss of temperature and pain sensations. However, sensations, such as vibration and position awareness, are preserved and some movement may be able to be restored.

Central Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the centre of the spinal cord that prevents the brain from sending information to the rest of the body. The main effects of central cord syndrome are loss of arm functionality and reduced functionality in the legs; however, it may be possible to recover and gradually improve function in the legs. bladder and bowel control can also be lost if damage is severe.

Posterior Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the artery at the back of the spinal cord that can cause difficulties in coordination and the loss of deep touch, vibration and position sensations. However, strength is preserved along with pain and temperature sensations.

Brown-Sequard Syndrome

This is a rare injury to one side of the spinal cord, which causes inverted complications. For instance, one side of the body below the region of the spine-injured can completely lose movement but retain sensations of pain and temperature, while on the other side, the opposite is true.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

This is an injury to the group of nerves at the base of the spine usually caused by trauma that compresses the nerves, resulting in back pain. Cauda equina syndrome can also result in partial or complete loss of movement and sensation, as well as bladder and bowel dysfunction.

If the nerves have not been severely damaged, there is a possibility that they will regrow, restoring some movement to the body.

Thoracic (Upper to Mid Back) Vertebrae T1-T12

Complete Paraplegia

Complete paraplegia is the result of an injury to the spinal cord anywhere below the neck. Damage will usually occur in the thoracic region of the spine; however, paraplegia has also been known to be caused by an injury to the lumbar and sacral regions too. The injury is classified by the region of the spine and vertebra damaged, for example, if damage is caused to the third vertebra in the thoracic region, this would be known as T3 paraplegia.

The Effects of Complete Paraplegia

Paraplegia causes complete loss of movement and feeling in the legs, and is sometimes known to affect the torso but not the arms. The higher the level of injury, the more severe the loss of function and sensation.

If an injury occurs to the T1-T6 vertebrae, this will cause loss of function and sensation below mid-chest. This can cause deterioration of the abdominal muscle, which may result in:

  • Very little control of the torso
  • Poor balance when sitting
  • Dysfunctional bladder and bowel movements
  • Loss of reproductive function

Injuries to the lower region of the thoracic region (T7-T12) will cause loss of function and sensation in the legs. The abdominal muscle will be preserved, meaning control of the torso and bodily functions will remain intact and balancing while sitting will still be possible.

The loss of function and sensation in the lower body caused by complete paraplegia can result in a number of further complications, which can be minimised by proper medical care and rehabilitation. These can include:

  • Autonomic dysreflexia, which causes a person’s blood pressure to suddenly become excessively high
  • Cardiovascular disease, which can increase the chances of heart attack, angina or stroke
  • Chronic nerve pain, which can vary from a short stabbing pain to a prolonged pricking, tickling or burning sensation
  • Deep vein thrombosis, which is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein usually found in the legs
  • Decreased fertility, which usually occurs in men
  • Hyperthermia and hypothermia
  • Osteoporosis, which is a condition where bones lose their strength making them more likely to break
  • Pneumonia
  • Skin deterioration or pressure sores
  • Spasticity, which is a condition that causes muscles to be continuously contracted

Recovering from Complete Paraplegia

Somebody that suffers from complete paraplegia will be required to stay in hospital, usually in a spinal cord rehabilitation unit, for approximately five months. Here, a programme of rehabilitation, skill-building and physiotherapy will be provided to help people adapt to the physical challenges in their day-to-day activities.

When a person is released from the hospital, they will usually be able to live independently with the ability to look after themselves, for example, eat, groom, bathe and dress. Most paraplegics will use a manual wheelchair to assist with mobility. Those capable of standing or walking with assistance for short periods of time may use braces or a walker to move about; although, this can take a great deal of strength and determination.

Anterior Cord Syndrome

Anterior cord syndrome is caused by an impact that damages the artery that runs along the front of the spinal cord. This is usually done by a fragment of a bone or a slipped disc. This injury causes loss of strength below the point of injury and loss of temperature and pain sensations. However, sensations, such as vibration and position awareness, are preserved and some movement may be able to be restored.

Central Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the centre of the spinal cord that prevents the brain from sending information to the rest of the body. The main effects of central cord syndrome are loss of arm functionality and reduced functionality in the legs; however, it may be possible to recover and gradually improve function in the legs. bladder and bowel control can also be lost if damage is severe.

Posterior Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the artery at the back of the spinal cord that can cause difficulties in coordination and the loss of deep touch, vibration and position sensations. However, strength is preserved along with pain and temperature sensations.

Brown-Sequard Syndrome

This is a rare injury to one side of the spinal cord, which causes inverted complications. For instance, one side of the body below the region of the spine-injured can completely lose movement but retain sensations of pain and temperature, while on the other side, the opposite is true.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

This is an injury to the group of nerves at the base of the spine usually caused by trauma that compresses the nerves, resulting in back pain. Cauda equina syndrome can also result in partial or complete loss of movement and sensation, as well as bladder and bowel dysfunction.

If the nerves have not been severely damaged, there is a possibility that they will regrow, restoring some movement to the body.

Lumbar (Lower Back) Vertebrae L1-L5

Complete Paraplegia

Complete paraplegia is the result of an injury to the spinal cord anywhere below the neck. Damage will usually occur in the thoracic region of the spine; however, paraplegia has also been known to be caused by an injury to the lumbar and sacral regions too. The injury is classified by the region of the spine and vertebra damaged, for example, if damage is caused to the third vertebra in the thoracic region, this would be known as T3 paraplegia.

The Effects of Complete Paraplegia

Paraplegia causes complete loss of movement and feeling in the legs, and is sometimes known to affect the torso but not the arms. The higher the level of injury, the more severe the loss of function and sensation.

If an injury occurs to the L1-L2 vertebrae, this will cause loss of function and sensation below the hips and groin area. This can cause deterioration of the abdominal muscle, which may result in:

  • Very little control of the legs
  • Poor balance when sitting
  • Dysfunctional bladder and bowel movements
  • Loss of reproductive function

Injuries to the lower region of the lumbar region (L3-L5) will cause loss of function and sensation in the legs, but may also cause numbness extending to the feet (also known as sciatica). The abdominal muscle will be preserved, meaning control of the torso and bodily functions will remain intact and balancing while sitting will still be possible.

The loss of function and sensation in the lower body caused by complete paraplegia can result in a number of further complications, which can be minimised by proper medical care and rehabilitation. These can include:

  • Autonomic dysreflexia, which causes a person’s blood pressure to suddenly become excessively high
  • Cardiovascular disease, which can increase the chances of heart attack, angina or stroke
  • Chronic nerve pain, which can vary from a short stabbing pain to a prolonged pricking, tickling or burning sensation
  • Deep vein thrombosis, which is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein usually found in the legs
  • Decreased fertility, which usually occurs in men
  • Hyperthermia and hypothermia
  • Osteoporosis, which is a condition where bones lose their strength making them more likely to break
  • Pneumonia
  • Skin deterioration or pressure sores
  • Spasticity, which is a condition that causes muscles to be continuously contracted

Recovering from Complete Paraplegia

Somebody that suffers from complete paraplegia will be required to stay in hospital, usually in a spinal cord rehabilitation unit, for approximately five months. Here, a programme of rehabilitation, skill-building and physiotherapy will be provided to help people adapt to the physical challenges in their day-to-day activities.

When a person is released from the hospital, they will usually be able to live independently with the ability to look after themselves, for example, eat, groom, bathe and dress. Most paraplegics will use a manual wheelchair to assist with mobility. Those capable of standing or walking with assistance for short periods of time may use braces or a walker to move about; although, this can take a great deal of strength and determination.

Anterior Cord Syndrome

Anterior cord syndrome is caused by an impact that damages the artery that runs along the front of the spinal cord. This is usually done by a fragment of a bone or a slipped disc. This injury causes loss of strength below the point of injury and loss of temperature and pain sensations. However, sensations, such as vibration and position awareness, are preserved and some movement may be able to be restored.

Central Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the centre of the spinal cord that prevents the brain from sending information to the rest of the body. The main effects of central cord syndrome are loss of arm functionality and reduced functionality in the legs; however, it may be possible to recover and gradually improve function in the legs. bladder and bowel control can also be lost if damage is severe.

Posterior Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the artery at the back of the spinal cord that can cause difficulties in coordination and the loss of deep touch, vibration and position sensations. However, strength is preserved along with pain and temperature sensations.

Brown-Sequard Syndrome

This is a rare injury to one side of the spinal cord, which causes inverted complications. For instance, one side of the body below the region of the spine-injured can completely lose movement but retain sensations of pain and temperature, while on the other side, the opposite is true.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

This is an injury to the group of nerves at the base of the spine usually caused by trauma that compresses the nerves, resulting in back pain. Cauda equina syndrome can also result in partial or complete loss of movement and sensation, as well as bladder and bowel dysfunction.

If the nerves have not been severely damaged, there is a possibility that they will regrow, restoring some movement to the body.

Sacrum (Pelvis) Vertebrae S1-S5

Complete Paraplegia

Complete paraplegia is the result of an injury to the spinal cord anywhere below the neck. Damage will usually occur in the thoracic region of the spine; however, paraplegia has also been known to be caused by an injury to the lumbar and sacral regions too. The injury is classified by the region of the spine and vertebra damaged, for example, if damage is caused to the third vertebra in the thoracic region, this would be known as T3 paraplegia.

The Effects of Complete Paraplegia

Paraplegia causes complete loss of movement and feeling in the legs, and is sometimes known to affect the torso but not the arms. The higher the level of injury, the more severe the loss of function and sensation.

Damage to the spine in the sacrum region affects the nerve roots in the following ways:

  • S1 affects the hips and groin area
  • S2 affects the back of the thighs
  • S3 affects the medial buttock area
  • S4 and S5 affect the perineal area

The loss of function and sensation in the lower body caused by complete paraplegia can result in a number of further complications, which can be minimised by proper medical care and rehabilitation. These can include:

  • Autonomic dysreflexia, which causes a person’s blood pressure to suddenly become excessively high
  • Cardiovascular disease, which can increase the chances of heart attack, angina or stroke
  • Chronic nerve pain, which can vary from a short stabbing pain to a prolonged pricking, tickling or burning sensation
  • Deep vein thrombosis, which is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein usually found in the legs
  • Decreased fertility, which usually occurs in men
  • Hyperthermia and hypothermia
  • Osteoporosis, which is a condition where bones lose their strength making them more likely to break
  • Pneumonia
  • Skin deterioration or pressure sores
  • Spasticity, which is a condition that causes muscles to be continuously contracted

Recovering from Complete Paraplegia

Somebody that suffers from complete paraplegia will be required to stay in hospital, usually in a spinal cord rehabilitation unit, for approximately five months. Here, a programme of rehabilitation, skill-building and physiotherapy will be provided to help people adapt to the physical challenges in their day-to-day activities.

When a person is released from the hospital, they will usually be able to live independently with the ability to look after themselves, for example, eat, groom, bathe and dress. Most paraplegics will use a manual wheelchair to assist with mobility. Those capable of standing or walking with assistance for short periods of time may use braces or a walker to move about; although, this can take a great deal of strength and determination.

Anterior Cord Syndrome

Anterior cord syndrome is caused by an impact that damages the artery that runs along the front of the spinal cord. This is usually done by a fragment of a bone or a slipped disc. This injury causes loss of strength below the point of injury and loss of temperature and pain sensations. However, sensations, such as vibration and position awareness, are preserved and some movement may be able to be restored.

Central Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the centre of the spinal cord that prevents the brain from sending information to the rest of the body. The main effects of central cord syndrome are loss of arm functionality and reduced functionality in the legs; however, it may be possible to recover and gradually improve function in the legs. bladder and bowel control can also be lost if damage is severe.

Posterior Cord Syndrome

This is an injury to the artery at the back of the spinal cord that can cause difficulties in coordination and the loss of deep touch, vibration and position sensations. However, strength is preserved along with pain and temperature sensations.

Brown-Sequard Syndrome

This is a rare injury to one side of the spinal cord, which causes inverted complications. For instance, one side of the body below the region of the spine-injured can completely lose movement but retain sensations of pain and temperature, while on the other side, the opposite is true.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

This is an injury to the group of nerves at the base of the spine usually caused by trauma that compresses the nerves, resulting in back pain. Cauda equina syndrome can also result in partial or complete loss of movement and sensation, as well as bladder and bowel dysfunction.

If the nerves have not been severely damaged, there is a possibility that they will regrow, restoring some movement to the body.

Talk to Us

If you have suffered a spinal injury in an accident that wasn't your fault, get in touch with our friendly and experienced solicitors today by calling 0800 054 6570. Alternatively, fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you.

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