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Important Terms Relating to Spinal Cord Injuries

Friday, July 28, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

Any injury can have a person’s head spinning. The chaos of trying to understand just what has happened to you medically and how it will affect or change the way you continue with your activities of daily living can be mind boggling.

A spinal cord injury is no exception. Spinal cord injuries can be a whirlwind of confusion. If you or someone you love incurs a spinal cord injury, there are some terms you will want to become familiar with.

Spinal Cord – The spinal cord is a primary component of the central nervous system. It is responsible for all movement within the body. It carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body with instructions to move, function, and feel sensation.

Vertebrae – The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spinal column, or backbone. The vertebrae are responsible not only for holding one’s body upright, but also, and perhaps most importantly, for protecting the spinal cord from injury.

Cervical Spine – The cervical spine refers to the vertebrae that make up the top portion of the spine. These are the neck bones. There are seven total cervical vertebrae which are referred to as C1-C7 (Cervical 1 through Cervical 7).

Thoracic Spine – The thoracic spine is made up of the vertebrae in the trunk of the body. This portion of the spine starts just below the neck vertebrae (or C7) and continues down the rib cage to the top of the lower back.

Lumbar Spine – The lumbar spine is the vertebrae that make up the low back. The lumbar spine continues from the bottom of the last thoracic vertebrae and connects the spinal column to the pelvis.

In order to determine if or where a spinal cord injury may have occurred, doctors will need to obtain imaging to make a proper diagnosis. The physician may order one or both of the following imaging scans.

CT Scan – A CT, or Computerized Tomography scan, is a scan that “provides doctors with more detailed information about spinal cord or brain damage than X-rays can show.”

MRI – An MRI, or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan, is a scan that sends magnetic waves along one’s body to develop images of the structures inside the body. “It can help identify blood clots, swelling or skull fractures that may be compressing the brain and/or the spinal cord.”

A spinal cord injury can lead to the loss of use in various areas of the body, depending on where in the spinal cord the injury occurred. Once a spinal cord injury is diagnosed through the use of a CT scan or MRI, a patient will be referred to a rehabilitation team to work to regain as much function as possible.

Physiatrist – A physiatrist is a doctor of physical medicine. This type of doctor helps a patient to improve the capabilities to move his or her body the way it should, or helps to develop adjustments that a patient can make in order to continue to carry on a productive and fulfilling life. A physiatrist will often work with physical therapists and occupational therapists to help rehabilitate a patient.

Physical Therapy – A Physical Therapist will provide a patient with exercises that patient will use to regain strength, flexibility and balance as needed to get back to his or her standard of activity before an injury occurred.

Occupational Therapy – An Occupational Therapist will assist a patient in making sure that he or she is able to carry on with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). This therapist will help a patient either get back to level of capabilities from prior to any injury, or provide modifications that help the patient take care of him or herself while despite physical limitations.

If you have experienced a spinal cord injury as a result of another’s negligence, you can rely on the compassionate San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP to guide you through the difficult time that follows. We are here for our clients and will passionately seek appropriate compensation for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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