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Levels of spinal cord injury determine symptoms

An individual involved in a serious accident in New York might wonder about the implications if the spinal cord has been injured. A complete injury can be especially serious due to the irreparable nature of the situation. An incomplete injury may result in some permanent damage, but there may be an opportunity for improvement. The level at which an injury occurs determines the severity of the impact on one's activities of daily living.

The spine is divided into three major sections. The cervical spinal levels are located in the neck. Injuries at the upper four levels, C1 to C4, are the most serious because they can affect one's control over the entire body. Such an injury may imply the need for around-the-clock care as paralysis can occur not only in all four extremities but also in the trunk. An individual suffering a complete spinal injury in the lower cervical spine might retain some control of arms and elbows, but there may be significant paralysis of the hands, wrists, and legs.

The thoracic spinal levels are located in the upper trunk, and injuries at these levels could result in paraplegia. However, some individuals might be able to walk with the support of braces. An injury to the lumbar spine, which is located in the lower trunk, could result in paraplegia, but some individuals might still be able to walk. The sacral portion of the spine is small, and an injury at this level might affect some hip function but will not typically inhibit an individual's ability to walk. An injury at any level could affect bowel and bladder control.

An individual who suffers a severe injury involving the spine could deal with life-long physical limitations. If the injury is the result of another individual's negligence, personal injury litigation might be appropriate to address the loss of ability to work and care for oneself.

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