Many think of the spinal cord as a singular part of the body, but it’s actually composed of a column of nerves secured by 33 vertebrae. The spine can be divided into four distinct regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. Each of these regions protect different groups of nerves that control parts of the body. Understanding where the injury is located is instrumental in an individual’s diagnosis and treatment.


  • Cervical

The head and neck region are affected by cervical spinal cord injuries.

  • Thoracic

The upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles are affected by injuries to the thoracic spinal cord.

  • Lumbar

The hips and legs are affected by lumbar spinal cord injuries.

  • Sacral

The hips, back of the thighs, buttocks and pelvic organs are affected by injuries to the sacral spinal cord.


Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two types: incomplete and complete. An incomplete spinal cord injury is one in which the injured party still has functioning body parts located below the affected body part. A complete spinal cord injury is one in which the injured cannot move anything below the body part that was affected.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

More than 60 percent of all injuries to the spinal cord are incomplete. Medical professionals are familiar with proper ways to treat this type of injury to avoid further complications. The three common types of incomplete spinal injuries including Anterior Cord Syndrome, Central Cord Syndrome, and Brown-Sequard Syndrome.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Although complete spinal cord injuries are less common, they are more severe. There are three types of complete spinal cord injuries include Tetraplegia, Paraplegia, and Triplegia. The most severe type of complete spinal cord injury is Tetraplegia, which causes paralysis and can affect all limbs. Paraplegia involves the injured losing complete movement and sensation of body parts.


When a patient first visits the emergency room, physicians should test the individual to see if there is any movement or sensation at or below the level of injury. If it is determined there is no movement or sensation, emergency medical tests for a spinal cord injury will be conducted. These could include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), or plane X-rays that show the planes of bone on bone.

Brad says, “Injuries to the spine aren’t always obvious. Until a thorough examination of the spine is done at a hospital or trauma center, people who might have spine injury should be cared for as if they have significant damage. As a precaution, at the accident scene EMTs should immobilize the head and neck to prevent movement.”

Fractured vertebrae, bone fragments, herniated discs, or other objects compressing the spine may need to be surgically removed. Spinal decompression surgery to relieve pressure within the spinal column also may be necessary in the days after injury. Surgery that is done early on, in many cases, is associated with better recovery.

Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) by the Numbers

17,730 – new SCI cases every year

291,0000 – approximate number of people in the U.S. living with SCI

43 – average age at time of injury

78 – percentage of new SCI cases that are male

39.3 – percentage of SCI cases caused by vehicle crashes

31.8 – percentage of SCI cases caused by falls

13.5 – percentage of SCI cases caused by violence (primarily gunshot wounds

*According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCSC)

Have You Been Injured In A Texas Accident?

If you’ve been injured you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Bedford, Texas office directly at 817.440.3888 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation. We help personal injury clients throughout Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington as well as all areas of Texas.

At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.

Brad Parker, auto accident injuries Lawyer

Protecting the rights of North Texas personal injury victims since 1985.