Driving in Texas can be a pure joy or a pure nightmare depending on the traffic, weather and numerous other factors. With any luck at all, you have never yet sustained serious injuries in a car crash. But that does not mean that you do not face serious risk of injury every time you get behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, a spinal cord injury represents one of the most catastrophic injuries you can sustain in a car crash. These are the injuries that confine you to a wheelchair as your only means of mobility.

Your spinal cord

You may never have thought about it, but your spinal cord is your body’s only means of communication between your brain and all the muscles and nerves below it. It also is one of your body’s most vulnerable areas, even though your 33 vertebrae surround it and protect it. The Mayfield Clinic advises that to understand an SCI and the grave disabilities from which you will suffer if you injure it, you must first understand the following regions of your back:

  1. Your first seven vertebrae occupy your cervical (neck) region.
  2. Your next 12 vertebrae occupy your thoracic (upper back) region.
  3. Your next five vertebrae occupy your lumbar (lower back) region.
  4. Your next five vertebrae, which are fused together, occupy your sacral region that comprises the lowest portion of your back and extends to your tailbone.
  5. Your final four vertebrae, which are likewise fused together, make up your coccyx (tailbone) itself.

The location of your SCI determines how much paralysis, i.e., loss of feeling and voluntary movement, you will suffer.

Paraplegia

An SCI to your lumbar or lower thoracic region results in paraplegia, the partial or total loss of sensation and movement in your legs and feet. Once you become a paraplegic, you can no longer walk, and you also may lose control of your bowel and bladder functions.

Quadriplegia

An SCI to your cervical or upper thoracic region results in quadriplegia, the partial or total loss of sensation and movement in your arms, hands and a good portion of your torso, as well as legs and feet. Once you become a quadriplegic, your life as you know it ends. You may not be able to move anything except your head, and you likely will feel little or nothing below your neck. Consequently you will not be able to care for yourself or do such mundane things as eat, bathe, dress yourself, or any of the other things you now do without really thinking about them. In other words, you will require round-the-clock care.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.