Catastrophic injuries, or injuries that are significant enough to seriously impact your life through disability, change your future immediately. One of the most significant injuries you can suffer is one to your cerebral spinal area.
The high-cervical nerves, located at C1 through C4 are involved in only the most severe of spinal cord injuries. These injuries are devastating because they often cause the most damaging disability possible for someone to survive.
What happens if the C1, 2, 3, or 4 vertebrae and nerves are impacted?
When the C1 through C4 nerves are damaged, there is a high risk of life-threatening side effects. Some of the common symptoms of these injuries include:
- Paralysis of the trunk, legs, arms and hands
- The inability to breathe on your own or without assistance
- The inability to control bladder or bowel movements
- The inability to cough without assistance
- Being unable to get dressed, bathe or get in or out of bed on your own
- The inability to speak or the impairment of speech
What happens if a person suffers a C1 through C4 injury?
People who suffer a C1 through C4 injury often need 24-hour personal care. He or she won't be able to control one's body if the nerves were completely damaged. Incomplete injuries may allow individuals to retain some functionality below the point of injury.
For most people who suffer these injuries, life is extremely different following the accident.
What happens if the injury is just a little lower?
Injuries that occur between the cervical nerves located at C5 through C8 are in a better position, although the injuries are often still catastrophic. The person may be able to control his or her arms and hands in some cases, and he or she is more likely to be able to breathe and speak independently.
For example, a C5 injury often allows individuals to retain the use of the diaphragm, but he or she may still struggle with weak breathing. Comparatively, a person with a C8 injury should still have some movement in the hands and be able to grasp objects on his or her own. Sometimes, these individuals can drive adapted vehicles and may still be able to do most daily activities on their own.
The difference between injuries just a few inches apart is astounding. For patients who suffer from any injury along the cervical spine, immediate treatment is necessary for a solid recovery.