Spinal Cord Injury

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Law Topics >  Injuries > Spinal Cord Injury

Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the brain through the spinal column and down the back. The spinal column or “backbone” is made up of several vertebrae that protect the fragile spinal cord. Different parts of the spinal cord control different bodily functions. For instance, the nerves running along the part of the cord closest to the front of your body control muscles and your ability to move, while the nerves toward your back control your sense of touch and allow you to perceive temperature.

If your vertebrae are compromised (broken or fractured) and fail to adequately protect the spinal cord you may suffer from a spinal cord injury. For instance, in an automobile accident your spinal cord may be compressed or even severed, resulting in varying degrees of incapacitation. The location of the injury along the spinal cord usually dictates the severity of your disability. The spinal column consists of four sections, the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral, which run from top to bottom respectively. Generally, the higher the type of spinal injuries are located along the spinal cord, the more severe the consequences. For example, damage to the spinal cord in either the Cervical or Thoracic regions usually results in some form of paralysis, while damage to the spinal cord in the lower portions of the Lumbar or Sacral regions may cause numbness and / or loss of bowel / bladder control.

Science is making rapid advances in spinal cord injury research. While there is currently no cure for many of the effects of spinal cord injury, researchers are developing techniques that they hope will allow damaged spinal cord nerves to regenerate and heal and reduce the incidence of death in patients with spinal cord injuries. Currently, the main goal in treating spinal cord injuries is to prevent further damage.