Spinal Cord Injuries: What Are They?

Some reports say that every year about 17,500 people in the United States sustain a spinal cord injury. That means there are 48 new spinal cord injuries every day!

Most of the injuries are the result of car crashes, truck accidents, violence, falls, and sports-related accidents.

But what, exactly, is a spinal cord injury?

How is it that a person can “break their neck” but not have a spinal cord injury?

Let’s take a look.

Your Spinal Cord.

Your spinal cord plays an essential and central role in everything you do. The spinal cord is the major bundle of nerves that carries nerve impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. Together with your brain, the spinal cord makes up your central nervous system.

The spinal cord is about 18 inches long and extends from the base of the brain, down the middle of the back, to about the waist. The nerves that lie within the spinal cord are upper motor neurons (“UMNs”). It is the function of the UMNs to carry the messages back and forth from the brain to the spinal nerves along the spinal tract. The lower motor neurons (“LMNs”) are spinal nerves that branch out from the spinal cord to the other parts of the body.

These spinal nerves exit and enter at each vertebral level in your spine, and communicate with specific areas of the body. The sensory portions of the LMNs carry messages about sensation from the skin and other body parts and organs to the brain. The motor portions of the LMNs send messages from the brain to the various body parts to initiate actions such as muscle movement.

The vertebra are rings of bone that make up your backbone, that surround the spinal cord. These bones constitute the spinal column (backbones).

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury (or “SCI”) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function. A spinal cord injury is very different from back injuries, like ruptured disks, spinal stenosis, or pinched nerves.

The spinal cord itself does not have to be severed for a loss of function to occur.

SCIs are generally divided into two categories: complete and incomplete.

A “complete” SCI means there is no function below the level of the injury – no sensation and no voluntary movement. Both sides of the body are equally affected.

An “incomplete” SCI means that there is some function below the primary level of injury. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other.

Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic injuries that can change your life forever.

Injured? Call us ToDay.

If you have suffered catastrophic injuries due to the fault of another, call us. We are experienced spinal cord injury attorneys. We offer FREE consultations, and in many cases, we don’t get paid unless you win.  Our offices are in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.

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