Unfortunately, the answer to the above question is yes. If you suffer a spinal cord injury in a car crash, you could become a paraplegic or a quadriplegic. In either event you will have little, if any, ability to move or feel your body below your point of injury.
UPMC.com explains that your spinal cord goes from your brain to your lower back. It represents the information highway between your brain and the rest of your body. Should an SCI sever or otherwise damage it, the information cannot get through and you lose control over the affected parts of your body.
Thirty-three vertebrae protect your spinal cord in the following five regions:
- Seven in your cervical region that extends from the base of your skull to the bottom of your neck
- Twelve in your thoracic region that extends from your neck to your waist
- Five in your lumbar region that extends from your waist to the lower portion of your back
- Five (fused) in your sacral region that proceeds downward to your tailbone
- Four (fused) in your coccyx (tailbone) region itself
The position and severity of your SCI will determine the amount of paralysis you suffer. An “incomplete” injury will leave you with some feeling and voluntary movement below your point of injury. Conversely, a “complete” injury will render you completely paralyzed below your injury point, with no feeling or voluntary movement whatsoever.
An SCI in your lumbar or lower thoracic region results in paraplegia, meaning that you cannot move your legs, feet or hips. Not only will you spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair, you likely will not be able to control your bowel or bladder. An SCI in your cervical or upper thoracic region is even more serious. Here you become quadriplegic, meaning that you cannot move your arms, hands, fingers or torso as well as your legs, feet and hips. You therefore cannot perform any of your day-to-day functions and will have to rely on other people to get you in and out of bed, bathe you, brush your teeth, comb your hair, feed you and attend to all your other needs.