A spinal cord injury can affect a much larger range of motor function the higher on the body it occurs. Spinal cord injuries are classified into four broad categories which then get more specific at each level. Spinal cord injuries are either cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacral.
Cervical begins at the top and the most devastating injuries are those afflicted to the C1 to C4 vertebrae. At these levels, patients may not even have the ability to breath on their own, let alone control their hands or feet. A personal with an injury at this level will likely need round the clock personal care. The lower cervical vertebrae (C5 to C8) may be able to lift their arms although they will likely have some level of paralysis in their hands or wrists. The trunk and legs are paralyzed.
At the thoracic level (T1 to T12), patients will experience lower body paralysis but will retain some control of their upper body and arms. Once we get further down to the lumbar and sacral vertebrae, a patient will likely have some level of paralysis in their legs but may not need a wheelchair, particularly in the sacral vertebrae.
An experienced personal injury attorney can provide more information about your rights after a spinal cord injury.