Of all the injuries you can potentially receive in a car crash, a spinal cord injury is perhaps one of the worst. Why? Because you may never walk again after sustaining an SCI.

The Mayo clinic explains that your spinal cord represents the pathway by which your brain and the rest of your body communicate with each other. If this communication line becomes disrupted due to an SCI, you will have little or no voluntary movement or sensation below your point of injury.

SCI locations and types

How much paralysis you will suffer depends on which portion of your back you injure, such as the following:

  • One of the seven cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) in your neck
  • One of the 12 thoracic vertebrae (T1-T12) in your upper back
  • One of the five lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5) in your lower back

The other important aspect with regard to paralysis is whether you suffer an incomplete or complete SCI. With an incomplete injury, you will have some residual movement and sensation below your injury point. You also will have the possibility of regaining further function and sensation in the affected areas of your body through strenuous physical therapy. A complete SCI, on the other hand, means no voluntary movement or sensation at all below your point of injury and no possibility of regaining any.

Paraplegia versus quadriplegia

Paraplegia; i.e., paralysis below your waist, results from an SCI somewhere between T5 and L5. As a paraplegic, you cannot walk and you most likely cannot control your bladder or bowel.

Quadriplegia; i.e., paralysis of all four of your limbs and most of your torso, results from an SCI somewhere between C1 and T5. As a quadriplegic, you cannot move anything except your head. You consequently must rely on other people to feed you, bathe you, dress and undress you, transfer you back and forth between your bed and your wheelchair, and do all the other daily things for you that you can no longer do for yourself.