Levels & Classification of Spinal Cord Injury

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Jul 12, 2016

An injury to your spinal cord, no matter how slight, can be a terrifying prospect to consider. It’s the main pathway that your brain uses to send sensory and motor information throughout the rest of your body, and if enough damage is caused, you could end up paralyzed. There are several ways spinal cord injuries are classified, both by location and by severity.

The spinal cord is protected by vertebrae, and those bone rings are organized with the spinal nerves into four different segments. Injuries to the different sections can result in different losses of function depending on which part is injured:

  • Cervical: The 7 vertebrae that make up the neck area. Injuries to this area of the spinal cord can result in loss of function in the arms, legs, and chest, and can affect body functions from breathing to bladder control.
  • Thoracic: The 12 vertebrae that make up the chest area. Injuries to this area of the spinal cord can result in loss of function in the chest and legs, and can affect body functions including bowel movements and bladder control. Injuries to the upper thoracic area can also have an effect on someone’s ability to breathe properly.
  • Lumbar: The 5 vertebrae that make up the area between the pelvis and chest. Injuries to this area of the spinal cord can result in loss of function in the legs and hips, and can affect body functions like bowel movements and bladder control.
  • Sacral: The 5 vertebrae that make up the area between the pelvis and the end of the spine. Injuries to this area of the spinal cord can result in loss of function in the legs and hips and can affect body functions like bowel movements and bladder control.

The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) publishes and updates the International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI), a widely used classification system for documenting motor and sensory impairments following a spinal cord injury. This system grades the injured persons’ motor function below the level of injury in order to classify the severity of the spinal cord injury.

  • Grade A: No sensory or motor function below the level of injury.
  • Grade B: No motor function below the level of injury, but some sensory function remains.
  • Grade C: Half or more than half of the muscles below the level of injury are incapable of moving against gravity, but some if not all sensory function remains.
  • Grade D: More than half of the muscles below the level of injury are capable of moving against gravity, and some if not all sensory function remains.
  • Grade E: All muscles are capable of moving against gravity.

No matter the severity, a spinal injury is a life-changing event. If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be eligible to file a claim in order to cover your medical expenses, as well as compensation for all other damages you may incur, including possible pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost earning capacity, and other problems caused by the negligence . At Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge, our Nashville personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to fight for you in court and at the negotiation table. Contact us today through our online form, or give us a call at (615) 933-2893 to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers.”

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