One of the most devastating injuries you can receive in a Mississippi car crash or another catastrophic accident is a spinal cord injury (SCI). Why? Because your spinal cord, that 17-inch nerve bundle that runs along your back, serves as the information highway between your brain and all other parts of your body. When your spinal cord is injured, most or all of that vital communication stops at the point of your injury. When there is no communication between your brain and your body, the result is partial or total paralysis from that point down. The level of your paralysis would depend on whether you have what doctors call an incomplete SCI or a complete one.
Your 33 vertebrae surround your spinal cord and march down the middle of your back in the following five regions:
- Seven in your cervical region; i.e., your neck
- 12 in your thoracic region; i.e., your upper back
- Five in your lumbar region; i.e., your middle back
- Five fused together in your sacral region; i.e., your lower back
- Four fused together in your coccyx region; i.e., your tailbone
If one of your lumbar vertebrae or one of your lower six thoracic vertebrae is injured, the result is paraplegia. This life-changing disability renders you incapable of walking, thereby confining you to life in a wheelchair. At best, you will retain limited voluntary movement and sensation below your navel. At worst, the lower half of your body would have no feeling at all. In addition to not walking, you also likely will not be able to use your stomach muscles or control your bladder or bowel.
If your SCI occurs to one of your cervical vertebrae or one of your upper six thoracic vertebrae, the result is quadriplegia. This life-threatening disability renders you incapable of voluntarily moving your body or feeling any sensation. Not only must you use a wheelchair, you must also rely on caregivers to provide you with the 24/7 care you require for such things as eating, drinking or even such everyday tasks as brushing your teeth.