A car crash can injure you in a variety of ways, but one of the most serious and life-changing is a spinal cord injury that leaves you paralyzed. As you probably know, your spinal cord and the nerves emanating from it serve as the information highway between your brain and the rest of your body. The messages that pass back and forth allow you to move and feel pressure, heat, pain, etc. As its name implies, an SCI damages your spinal cord, thereby decreasing or eliminating this message delivery system. The result is partial or total paralysis below your point of injury.

The Mayo Clinic explains that where you experience paralysis depends on which region of your back you injure. The key regions consist of the following:

  • Your cervical (neck) region that contains seven vertebrae
  • Your thoracic (upper back) region that contains 12 vertebrae
  • Your lumbar (lower back) region that contains five vertebrae

Paraplegia

If your SCI occurs in your lumbar or lower thoracic region, you will experience paraplegia; i.e., partial or complete loss of voluntary movement and sensation in your legs, feet, hips and lower torso. Your paralysis could be temporary or permanent depending on whether you suffered an incomplete SCI or a complete one. Either way, you will need a wheelchair for a significant period of time, perhaps for the rest of your life. You also will likely lose control of your bladder and bowel functions.

Quadriplegia

If your SCI occurs in your cervical or upper thoracic region, you will experience quadriplegia; i.e., partial or complete loss of voluntary movement and sensation in all four of your limbs as well as virtually your entire torso. As a quadriplegic, you will require the constant care of others because you will be unable to do much of anything for yourself, including eating, drinking, bathing, dressing, getting in and out of bed, and virtually all of the other things you currently do without giving them much, if any, thought.