The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys
San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

Friday, February 8, 2008

Anatomy of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are serious and it may not be obvious that someone has a spinal cord injury. The treatment given to a person immediately after he of she has suffered one of these injuries is critical to limiting the amounting of harm done and preventing secondary injuries from occurring.

The spinal cord is surrounded by bone called the vertebrae that protects the fragile cord from injury. The spinal cord and vertebra make up the spinal column. The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system and delivers signals between the brain and the rest of the body. The cord is made up of many types of nerve fibers and cells. The spinal column is divided into five distinct segments from top to bottom:
Cervical vertebrae (neck) -- controls back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, diaphragm
Thoracic vertebrae (upper back) -- controls chest muscles, some back muscles, parts of the abdomen
Lumbar vertebrae (middle back) -- controls lower abdomen, lower back, buttocks, some parts of the legs, some parts of the external genital organs
Sacral vertebrae (hips) -- controls thighs, lower parts of legs, feet, most of the external genital organs, area around the anus
Coccygeal vertebrae (tailbone) -- controls sensation from the skin on the lower back.

The level of injury refers to the segment damaged by the injury, below which function has been lost, either completely or partially — meaning that the ability of the brain to send and receive messages down the spinal cord has been impaired or severed altogether. The higher up the level of injury on the spinal column, the more function lost. For example, a person in a car accident who suffers a C5 injury will have lost more function than a person in a similar accident with a L4 injury.

While a spinal cord injury can occur from an illness or disease (like a tumor), the most common cause is a traumatic injury that dislocates or fractures the vertebra protecting the spinal cord. This contact can cause hemorrhage and swelling of the spinal cord, tearing of the cord or disruption of the spinal nerves. The spinal cord is rarely severed completely.

Immediately after a suspected spinal cord injury, it is vitally important to take action to stabilize the spine and prevent or minimize secondary injuries. Secondary injuries are those that occur after the initial trauma and can exacerbate the damage to the spinal cord.
Thus, immediate treatment of a spinal cord injury includes:
Determining if there are any structural problems with the spine that need to be surgically repaired
Determining if there is compression on the spine that needs to be surgically relieved
Minimizing the damage to the nerve cells with the use of steroids (methylprednisolone)
Stabilizing and reducing the vertebrae
Immobilizing the patient.

If the person suffered a high spinal cord injury in the cervical vertebrae, he or she may be unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator. If you come into contact with a person you suspect has suffered a spinal cord injury, call an ambulance and do not attempt to move him or her, or you could make the injury worse.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, please contact us (210) 979-9777 or visit our websites or visit because we care about your legal needs!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quite a useful blog post, thanks.
I don't think people are as aware of a spinal injury as they are of other injuries, because they can often go unnoticed. One example is the football goalkeeper who suffered an injury during the game then went on and played the rest of the match. It was later discovered that he had a broken neck.

If you experience any discomfort, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible; and if the injury was the fault of another party, you might be able to claim compensation and should contact a solicitor.

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