Thousands of accident victims in Georgia and around the country suffer serious spinal cord injuries each year, and very few of them recover. The spinal cord is a mass of nerve tissue that runs down the neck and back that is protected by membranes and bones called vertebrae. When this nerve tissue is badly damaged by trauma, it cannot be repaired. Car accidents and falls cause more than 70% of spinal cord injuries in the United States.
Sacral and lumbar injuries
The spinal cord is made up of the sacral, lumbar, thoracic and cervical sections. The sacral level is located at the base of the back. Injuries to this area affect the upper legs and pelvic region. The bones protecting this are very strong, so spinal cord injuries tend to be less severe when this area is exposed to trauma. Injuries to the lower back or lumbar area are more likely to leave the legs paralyzed, but the use of braces may allow some movement if the nerve tissue is not badly damaged.
Thoracic and cervical injuries
The thoracic region runs from the base of the neck to the middle of the back. Injuries to this area affect the use of the arms and hands. Spinal cord injuries are most debilitating when the nerve tissue in the neck or cervical region is damaged. Accident victims who suffer this kind of nerve damage often lose the use of both their legs and arms. People who suffer these injures must learn to cope with paralysis because the overall recovery rate for spinal cord injuries is less than 1%.
Avoiding spinal cord injuries
Spinal cord injuries are extremely serious, and the chances of recovering from one are slim. Most of them are caused by car accidents and falls, so walking carefully on slippery surfaces, holding handrails when using stairs and always wearing a seat belt when traveling in motor vehicles may be the best ways to avoid them.