e d g e - education for disability and gender equity


1 Intro
2 Single gene disorders
3 Additional chromosomes
4 Activity
5 Resources
1 Intro
2 Spinal cord and vertebrae

Effects of SCI

4 Activity
5 Resources


2. The Spinal Cord and Vertebrae

People with spinal cord injuries have a huge range of disabilities because the impact of an injury depends a great deal on where on the spinal cord the messages have been interrupted. The brain and the spinal cord constitute the Central Nervous System.

Motor and sensory nerves control involuntary functions such as blood pressure and temperature regulation.

Cervical section of the spinal column
Cervical Vertebrae

The spinal cord is surrounded by rings of bone called vertebra. These bones constitute the spinal column (back bones). In general, the higher in the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more dysfunction a person will experience.

The vertebra are named according to their location. The eight vertebra in the neck are called the Cervical Vertebra. The top vertebra is called C-1, the next is C-2, etc.

Cervical SCIs usually cause loss of function in the arms and legs, resulting in quadriplegia.

Profiles of people with:
Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries

Thoracic and lumbar sections of the spinal column
Thoracic and Lumbar Vertebrae

The twelve vertebra in the chest are called the Thoracic Vertebra. The first thoracic vertebra, T-1, is the vertebra where the top rib attaches. Injuries in the thoracic region usually affect the chest and the legs and result in paraplegia.

Profiles of people with:
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries

The vertebra in the lower back - between the thoracic vertebra, where the ribs attach, and the pelvis (hip bone), are the Lumbar Vertebra. The sacral vertebra run from the pelvis to the end of the spinal column.

Profiles of people with:
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries

Sacral region of the spinal column
Sacral Vertebrae

Injuries to the five Lumbar vertebra (L-1 thru L-5) and similarly to the five Sacral Vertebra (S-1 thru S-5) generally result in some loss of functioning in the hips and legs.

Depending on the type of injury people may have full, partial or no control over their bowel and bladder function. Sex and pregnancy (with some modifications) are almost always possible after a spinal injury.

Profiles of people with:
Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries

(next section - 3. Effects of SCI)

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