Spinal Cord Injuries from Vehicle Collisions
It won’t be wrong to say that cervical Spinal cord injuries is the most severe variety from motorcycle crashes, car wrecks, and semi-truck accidents. After all, the cervical portion is closer to the brain, and an injury in this area could severely affect a large part of the body. In the case of a cervical SCI after a vehicle collision, a person can experience limited or absent movement or sensation below the neck/shoulders.
What is the Role of the Cervical Spine in driving a vehicle?
The location of the cervical spine is at the top of the spinal column; it contains seven vertebrae (C1 – C7) that form the human neck. While a person is driving a car or semi-truck cervical spine is responsible for holding up your head, encasing the spinal cord, and allowing blood to flow to your brain. C8 is a spinal nerve, and a cervical-level injury happens when there is damage to the spinal cord root between C7 and T1. If a person is riding a motorcycle, the spine bends forward and keep the torso level. The cervical spine ensures that numerous operations of the motorcyclist’s body run smoothly. In case of an injury from a motorcycle accident, the outcome can be severe, such as complete paralysis of torso, legs, arms, and hands. Some of the best motorcycle accident lawyers in San Diego seen paralysis from spine injury in motorcycle crashes. In some cases, the high severity of the injury even resulted in death.
Levels of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury
In nearly all semi-truck accidents, the cervical spine becomes injured because of the heavy force of the truck colliding into a car. Many of the best truck wreck lawyers reported that a victim becomes paralyzed when the semi-truck hits a car at the rear.
C1 & C2
The first two segments in the cervical spine are atlas (C1) and axis (C2). They are essential because they are responsible for supporting the head. There is a joint between atlas and axis that is a pivot, and it enables the head to turn. Among all spinal cord injuries, the injuries at C1 & C2 vertebral levels are the most severe because they are fatal in most cases.
C3, C4, & C5
The location of C3, C4, and C5 are at the base of the neck, and they form the midsection of the cervical spine. Any damage to these vertebral levels is severe because it affects the central nervous system of the body. The flexion and extension occur at the C2-C3 connection. If there is damage to the C4 vertebrae, it means that the patient will need support to breathe 24-hours-a-day. In case there is an injury to the C5 vertebrae, there will be damage done to the biceps, vocal cords, and deltoid muscles.
C6, C7, & C8
Pressure or injury of the C6 vertebrae can affect your ability to control your wrists and forearms because it is the nerve root. The lowest levels of the cervical spine are the C6 and C7. An injury to any of these regions can affect everything below the top of the ribcage. An injury to the C8 spinal nerve has the potential to paralysis of hands, legs, and trunk.
Effects of Cervical SCI
- In case of an injury to C1 to C4 nerves, there is a possibility of paralysis in hands, arms, legs, and trunk
- The patient will likely be not able to control bladder or bowel movements or even breathe on his/her own
- The speaking ability is reduced or impaired in severe cases
- There is a loss of sensation or feeling below the injury point
- There can be loss of diaphragm function
- The patient may have some independent functions, but he/she will most need help with daily living
- An injury to the C5 cervical nerve could lead to some or total paralysis of trunk, legs, hands, and wrists. The person may be able to bend elbows and raise his/her arms. The breathing will be difficult
- If there is an injury to the C6 cervical nerve, there can be paralysis in hands, legs, and trunk. Though the person may be able to move using a power wheelchair
- With an injury to the C7 cervical nerve, the patient may be able to control some finger and elbow extension.
What is Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries Treatments?
Unfortunately, cervical spinal cord injuries are considered irreversible, and going back to the previous state is not possible. However, proper therapy and treatment can help improve the patient’s condition. With incomplete spinal cord injuries, there are better chances of enhancing the state and returning. Early treatment of these injuries includes:
- Stabilizing the neck to prevent further damage
- Regulation of respiratory and breathing function
- Ensuring that there are no blood clots
- Preventing urine or stool retention
For long-term treatment, it may require:
- Pain regimens or steroid injections to ease the pain and reduce inflammation
- Surgery is performed to lessen the pressure on the spinal cord
- Rehabilitation focuses on using the non-paralyzed areas of the body and also to regain function of the affected areas
- Stem cell injections can be used to help in the recovery process. Although they are not widely used, initial results are promising
Mental Health and Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries
For a patient that has a cervical spinal cord injury, mental health holds immense significance in dealing with the injury and the recovery. Due to the injury, there are physical, and that’s why keeping mental health in check plays a crucial role in the recovery process. It is best to seek out a therapist to help you or your loved one so that you have the courage and power to pass through the difficult period of your life.
What to Do If You Suffer from a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury?
After a car accident in San Diego, California, you will be frantic and confused. The first step is to contact 911 to get immediate help. If you are alone, call for help and make sure you keep still until medical assistance arrives. Once your injury is diagnosed, you will undergo a treatment and rehabilitation program to put you on track to recovery. Understand that immediate help can prove vital in improving your chances of recovery. So, waste no time and get medical assistance as soon as possible. After seeking medical care, you should contact the best car accident attorneys to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you’re unable to work after a car accident, the best employment lawyers can help you obtain worker’s compensation.