Sometimes, car accidents in Pennsylvania leave occupants with catastrophic injuries that affect their lives for the rest of their days. If you were left with a spinal injury after a crash, you might find coping with the consequences easier if you understood the structure and functions of the different parts of the spinal cord. The area in which damage to your spinal cord occurred will determine the level of disability it caused.
Your spinal cord connects your body and your brain, and it carries messages to the brain and instructions back to the body. The stretch between your brain and your neck is the cervical spine, and the portion of your spine from the neck to the mid-back is the thoracic spine. The spinal cord runs through those sections, and the lumbar spine, or lower back, is where the nerve roots branch out to your legs.
Two types of spinal cord injuries
Damage to your thoracic or cervical spine can damage the spinal cord. It could cause impaired body organ function, movement and sensation below the point at which damage occurred, classified as follows:
- Complete spinal cord injury: This involves the complete loss of mobility and feeling on both sides of your body below the injury.
- Incomplete spinal cord injury: In this case, you might retain movement and sensation in some body parts, with one side more affected than the other side.
The location and severity of spinal cord damage will determine the level of lost functionality.
Types of paralysis
More widespread disability will result from damage to the higher parts of your spinal cord. The following describes the possible levels of paralysis and loss of function and sensation in your legs, trunk and arms:
- Paraplegia: Para means two like parts, and this type of paralysis follows damage at or below the first thoracic vertebra. If this is where your spinal cord damage occurred, you will like cause paralysis in both your legs.
- Triplegia: With tri indicating three, this injury could affect three limbs such as both legs and one arm. The damage that causes this type of paralysis is typically an incomplete spinal cord injury.
- Quadriplegia: Quad means four, and it indicates paralysis in both legs and both arms. The location of the trauma that causes quadriplegia usually damages the spinal cord in the upper neck area.
- Quadriparesis and paraparesis: These conditions indicate partial loss of sensation and function in four or two limbs.
If you are the unfortunate victim of a spinal cord injury that resulted from another party's negligence, you will need the skills of experienced legal counsel to fight for your rights to damage recovery. Your best recourse would be to retain the services of a Pennsylvania law firm with board-certified civil trial specialists to navigate ensuing legal proceedings in pursuit of past and future economic and noneconomic losses.