Next to the brain, the spinal cord is the most essential part of the body. Without it, there is no movement to any part of the human anatomy. There are several ways to damage the spinal cord, but one third comes from serious spinal injury from a fall. Accidents can happen anywhere but the top three car accidents, slips, and falls, and sports events. The bone can break or fracture in any incident, but if the nerves around the spinal cord get damaged in any way, paralysis is likely. These are the different types of injuries that can occur, but first, it is essential to know the anatomy of the spinal cord.
The Anatomy of the Spinal Cord
To understand the different types of damage a person can receive with a spinal cord injury, we must understand the spinal cord and what it does for the body. The central part of the nervous system is the brain and the spinal cord. All of the nerves in the body branch out of those two areas to make a person move and physically feel the sense of touch or pain. The backbone or spinal column is the spinal cord and vertebrae wrapped up in a protective covering known as the membrane. Nerve cells sent throughout the body are moving along from the brain and the spinal cord, exiting through the vertebrae. The spinal cord is like a wiretap sending messages throughout the body to and from the brain.
Different Types of Injuries
During a fall, the spinal cord can receive damage or break. If the bone itself breaks and the nerve is not damaged, there is nothing but severe pain. If the nerve is damaged, then the first step to assessing the damage is to figure out what type of injury it is. There are four parts to the spinal cord, and once the area is determined, medical professionals know what they are dealing with, and the patient receives their diagnosis, afterward treatment.
Cervical injuries are at the top portion of the spinal column. It is known as the cervical section (C1-C7). It begins at the neck and is the most serious of injuries. If the nerves or damage from this point, the person becomes quadriplegia, which means they become paralyzed from the neck on down.
Thoracic injuries are the next part of the spine, known as T1-T12. It is the upper area of the backbone. If this part is damaged, then paralysis is common in the middle area down to the legs. Then the person becomes paraplegia.
The last two parts of the spine are the lumbar spine and the sacral levels known as L1-L5 and S1-S5. Both of these deal with the lower part of the body. Lumbar injuries consist of paralysis below the hips and legs. Sacral injuries are similar as they, too, cause paralysis at or below the same area. The base of the tailbone can be broken with no paralysis but is very painful. There is also no way to put a cast around a broken tailbone, so many people have to wait it out until it heals.
Accidents and Recoveries
When a person slips and falls, the damage can be quick and easy to fix, or it can last the rest of a person’s life. If the spine is damaged, people can recover with years of therapy. The road is long and hard, but it depends on the will of the person. If they want it, they will get it done. It is excruciating, and it is a long road. Some never recover because the damage to the spine is too severe. It is mostly the quadriplegias who are unable to heal due to the extensive damage and where the damage is. They are unable to move any portion of their body.
Many of those who are unable to recover end up in nursing homes or with home care nurses. This is when the expenses can get bad for the person or family. A lawyer who knows the ropes could assist in any way on the legal side of things and help ease some of the financial burdens if the fall or accident was due to someone else. The main thing is to know the amount of damage and the long term effects of the injuries. Many people who break or fracture their spine can always have hope. Those where the nerves are not damaged recovery is only months.
When it comes to sports injuries, a lot of them won’t incorporate nerve damage—but many will be exceptionally painful, and may take months or years to recover from. How fast you recover, and how fully you recover, will depend on a few key factors. First, you want to be sure you’ve got the most top-tier professionals available helping you get back on track—such as this Lake Oswego sports medicine doctor. You might consider the link as a sort of example to emulate if you’re somewhere outside Lake Oswego and need help pertaining to a spinal injury sustained through physical activity. Next, once you’ve had the right professionals examine you, you’ll want to carefully follow all the instructions they give you. Lastly, be determined to regain what you lost, and continue pushing even after you’re “back to normal”–but within reason. If you’ve avoided extreme nerve damage, there may be more hope than it seems at first.