Spinal injuries are among the most severe kinds of injuries that a person can survive. Many who injure their spines in accidents on the job are never able to work again due to paralysis, or must seek a completely different type of job and work environment.
The level of injury is what determines functionality after the spine is damaged in an accident. Injuries to the neck at C1 to C4 are the most catastrophic, as the injury could affect breathing and speaking. “Superman” actor Christopher Reeve suffered injury at the C1 – C2 level. These patients are typically quadriplegic and need 24-hour care for the rest of their lives.
If the lower cervical nerves at C5 – C8 are involved, breathing and speech will be unaffected, but they may be unable to move their hands and arms completely. A C5 injury can allow for self-propelled motion in a power wheelchair, but the patient will still need help with their activities of daily living.
C6 injuries might allow a patient to get him- or herself in and out of a bed or wheelchair using assists. Bowel and bladder control are involuntary but might be managed with special devices.
C7 and C8 injuries might not prevent a patient from completing most ADLs on their own, but they will need adapted vehicles and other assistive devices.
As you can tell, after a spinal cord injury, life as you know it is a thing of the past. Accepting and adapting to the new normal is never easy, and pursuing financial compensation for your injuries from at-fault parties is one way to ease the transition.
Source: Shepherd Center, “Levels of Injury,” accessed Aug. 05, 2016
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