Spinal injury

Spinal cord injury; SCI

The spinal cord contains the nerves that carry messages between your brain and the rest of the body. The cord passes through your neck and back. A spinal cord injury is very serious because it can cause loss of movement (paralysis) and sensation below the site of the injury.

Skeletal spine

The spine is divided into several sections. The cervical vertebrae make up the neck. The thoracic vertebrae comprise the chest section and have ribs attached. The lumbar vertebrae are the remaining vertebrae below the last thoracic bone and the top of the sacrum. The sacral vertebrae are caged within the bones of the pelvis, and the coccyx represents the terminal vertebrae or vestigial tail.

Vertebra, cervical (neck)

These are the seven bones of the neck, called the cervical vertebra. The top bone, seen on the right of this picture, is called the atlas, and is where the head attaches to the neck. The second bone is called the axis, upon which the head and atlas rotate. The vertebra are numbered from one to seven from the atlas down, and are referred to as C1, C2, C3, etc.

Vertebra, lumbar (low back)

These are the five vertebra of the lower back. The last vertebra (on the upper left of the picture) attaches to the sacrum, and the top vertebra (on the right of the picture) attaches to the thoracic section of the back. The vertebra are broader and stronger than the other bones in the spine. This allows them to absorb the added pressure applied to the lower back, but this area remains a common site of injury. The vertebra are numbered from one to five and are labeled L1, L2, L3 etc. from the higher bones to the lower.

Vertebra, thoracic (mid back)

These are twelve vertebra of the mid back. The last vertebra (on the left side of the picture) attaches to the lumbar (lower) spine, and the top vertebra (on the right) attaches to the cervical (neck) section of the back. The vertebra are broader and stronger than the cervical bones. This allows them to absorb the added pressure applied to the mid back, but they remain a common sight of injury. The vertebra are numbered from one to twelve and labeled T1, T2, T3 etc. from the upper most bones to the lowest.

Vertebral column

This is the spine and the sacrum with the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (lower back) vertebra. Notice how the appearance of the vertebra change as you look down the spine. The change in shape and size reflect the different functions of the neck, mid-back, and lower back.

Central nervous system

The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. The brain functions to receive nerve impulses from the spinal cord and cranial nerves. The spinal cord contains the nerves that carry messages between the brain and the body. Spinal cord injury can occur when there is damage to the cells within the spinal cord or when the tracts of nerves that run up and down the spinal cord are severed.

Spinal cord injury

A severe spinal cord injury often causes loss of feeling and paralysis, the loss of movement and voluntary control over the muscles in the body. Spinal cord damage also causes loss of reflex function below the point of injury interrupting bodily functions such as breathing, bowel control, and bladder control. In the event of a spinal injury prompt medical attention can help to minimize further spinal cord damage.

Spinal anatomy

The vertebral column provides structural support for the trunk and surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The vertebral column also provides attachment points for the muscles of the back and ribs. The vertebral disks serve as shock absorbers during activities such as walking, running, and jumping. They also allow the spine to flex and extend.

Two person roll - series

To roll an injured person two people are needed. One person is stationed at the head and the other at the victim's side. The person on the side places one hand on the victim's shoulder and the other on the victim's thigh area. The person at the victim's head stabilizes the head and neck so that the head and neck does not bend, move, or twist in any direction.

Causes

Symptoms

First Aid

Do Not

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Prevention