Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries

Part of the work at Aspire Law, in supporting people who have suffered a spinal cord injury, is understanding the types of injury, the severity, and how this affects the client.

This sort of knowledge allows their team to build the best case possible, enabling their clients to claim the compensation that will help them to live as independent and pain-free a life as possible.

The structure of the spine

Understanding the structure of the spine can help the spinal injury compensation team to understand what a spinal injury means.

The spine is made up of vertebrae – small bones – with intervertebral discs between each one. The discs are made up of a tough outer layer called the annulus, and a gel-like centre called the nucleus pulposus.

You may have heard of a ‘slipped disc.’ What this means is that the nucleus pulposus herniates through a tear in the annulus, and causes pain by putting pressure on the nerves.

The vertebrae themselves are thought of as existing in three sections:

  • the cervical spine – from C1, directly beneath the skull, to C7, the cervical vertebrae support the upper torso and arms
  • the thoracic spine – from T1 to T12, the thoracic vertebrae support the torso and abdomen
  • the lumbar spine – from L1 to L5, the lumbar spine supports the pelvis and legs

The spinal cord is the column of nerve fibres which extends along the spinal canal. There are 31 pairs of nerve roots which extend out from the spine, between the vertebrae, through openings called the neural foramen.

The height of a spinal injury

Generally speaking, a spinal injury affects everything below the level of the injury itself. This means that cervical injuries can cause loss of movement and sensation in the torso, abdomen, and all four limbs – commonly known as quadriplegia.

Thoracic injuries are less common, due to the protection offered by the rib cage. They can result in loss of movement and sensation in the legs, and pelvic region.

Completeness

Spinal injuries are also measured by their degree of ‘completeness’ – which means whether or not the injury results in some loss of sensation and movement, or total loss.

Whilst nobody would suggest that an understanding of the legal and medical implications of a spinal injury is the same as experiencing the realities of living with one, it is certainly true that if you are seeking compensation to help with adapting your house, or rehabilitation costs, an empathetic and informed legal team will be the best choice.