Spring has arrived in Florida, and with it comes even more traffic as college students on spring break flock to our beaches and families head down for fun in the sun. Unfortunately, increased traffic means an increased risk of your becoming the victim of a car crash.

Should you suffer a neck or back injury in your car crash, the results could be catastrophic. You could partially or completely sever your spinal cord and spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair due to your paralysis.

The Mayfield Clinic explains the complexity of your spinal column and the vertebrae and nerves it contains. If you never took a human anatomy course, it may surprise you to learn that your back’s spinal column contains 33 vertebrae arranged in the following order:

  • Seven in your cervical region that goes from the bottom of your brain to the bottom of your neck
  • Twelve in your thoracic region that goes from the bottom of your neck to your waist
  • Five in your lumbar region that goes from your waist to your lumbar curve
  • Five fused together in your sacral region, the rest of your lower back
  • Four fused together in your coccyx region, your tailbone

Higher injury, more extensive paralysis

The nerves emanating from your spinal column relay the messages back and forth between your brain and everything below it, allowing you to move and feel. If you sever your spinal cord in your car crash, you will retain little, if any, movement or feeling below your point of injury. In other words, those parts of your body will become paralyzed.

Sustaining a spinal cord injury to your lumbar region is far better than sustaining it to your thoracic or cervical regions. A lumbar spinal cord injury results in paraplegia, i.e., paralysis of your legs, feet and any part of your torso below your injury. Paraplegia usually puts you in a wheelchair for the remainder of your life, with little or no control over your bladder or bowel.

A spinal cord injury sustained to your thoracic or cervical region results in quadriplegia. Here not only do your legs and feet become paralyzed, but also your arms, hands, and fingers, as well as any portion of your torso below your injury. Should you become a quadriplegic, you will need the help of others to do virtually everything, including brushing your hair and teeth and moving from your bed to your wheelchair and back again. In the worst case scenario, you could need constant mechanical ventilation in order to breathe.

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