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Coping with
Spinal Cord Injury

FacingDisability.com connects families who suddenly have to deal with a spinal cord injury to people like them who have already been there.

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REAL EXPERIENCES

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is living with a spinal cord injury

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 REAL PEOPLE, REAL EXPERIENCES

Everybody in these videos
is living with a spinal cord injury 

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WHAT THE
EXPERTS SAY

Top medical experts
focus on important SCI topics

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WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

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ANIMATED SCI LEVELS CHART

Mouse over the spinal column to see how the level of injury affects loss of function and control

More About Spinal Cord Injury

spine C1-C8 spine T1-T12 spine L1-L5 sacrum

Cervical Injuries

Cervical injuries above the C-4 level may require a ventilator for the person to breathe. C-5 injuries often result in shoulder and biceps control, but no control at the wrist or hand. C-6 injuries generally yield wrist control, but no hand function. Individuals with C-7, C-8 and T-1 injuries can straighten their arms, but still may have problems with their hands.

Thoracic Injuries

The first thoracic vertebra, T-1, is located approximately at the same level as the top rib. Injuries to nerves in this region usually affect the chest and the legs, and result in paraplegia. For injuries from T-1 to T-8, there is usually control of the hands but lack of abdominal muscle control. (Individuals with injuries from T-1 to T-6 are also at risk for Autonomic Dysreflexia)

Lumbar Injuries

Injuries to nerves in the area of L-1 to L-5 generally result in some loss of functioning of the hips and legs. Bowel, bladder and sexual function may also be impacted.

Sacral Injuries

The sacrum runs from the pelvis to the end of the spinal column. Injuries to nerves in this area generally result in some loss of functioning of the hips, legs, ankles, and feet. Loss of control of bowel and bladder and sexual functions is also common.

ANIMATED SCI LEVELS CHART

Mouse over the spinal column to see how the level of injury affects loss of function and control

More About Spinal Cord Injury

Cervical Injuries

Cervical injuries above the C-4 level may require a ventilator for the person to breathe. C-5 injuries often result in shoulder and biceps control, but no control at the wrist or hand. C-6 injuries generally yield wrist control, but no hand function. Individuals with C-7, C-8 and T-1 injuries can straighten their arms, but still may have problems with their hands.

Thoracic Injuries

The first thoracic vertebra, T-1, is located approximately at the same level as the top rib. Injuries to nerves in this region usually affect the chest and the legs, and result in paraplegia. For injuries from T-1 to T-8, there is usually control of the hands but lack of abdominal muscle control. (Individuals with injuries from T-1 to T-6 are also at risk for Autonomic Dysreflexia)

Lumbar Injuries

Injuries to nerves in the area of L-1 to L-5 generally result in some loss of functioning of the hips and legs. Bowel, bladder and sexual function may also be impacted.

Sacral Injuries

The sacrum runs from the pelvis to the end of the spinal column. Injuries to nerves in this area generally result in some loss of functioning of the hips, legs, ankles, and feet. Loss of control of bowel and bladder and sexual functions is also common.

Facing Disability Blog

Stay Safe in Hot Weather: The SCI Guide
by Stephanie Lollino

The extreme heat we are experiencing is creating headlines. It seems as though the temperature hits new highs every day.  It's uncomfortable for everyone, but people with spinal cord injuries are at higher risk of quickly becoming sick with heat-related illnesses. That’s because spinal cord injuries make it difficult for the signal that your body is too warm (or too cold) to reach your brain. So the bodies of people with paralysis often miss the signs of overheating.

Here are some heat tips from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

  1. Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting items.
  2. Indoor cooling matters: Stay in air-conditioning as much as possible. Over 90 degrees, fans do not help indoors. If no air conditioning is available, use a cool shower to lower body temps.
  3. Limit outdoor activities: Go outdoors during cooler hours – early morning or late evening. Rest often to give your body time to recover.
  4. Limit exercise during the heat: If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
  5. Use Sunscreen: Getting a sunburn does more than turn skin red. It lowers the body’s ability to cool down especially if you have a spinal cord injury. A wide brim hat and sunglasses are also helpful.
  6. Avoid heavy and spicy meals: Eating cold meals with hydrating, mild ingredients helps keep your body cool.
  7. Stay Hydrated: Drink continually and before you become thirsty. Do not drink alcohol or extremely sugary beverages in the sun. They cause dehydration and the loss of body fluids. Replace fluids by trying a sports drink or waters infused with electrolytes.

...

Read more about avoiding heat disasters with SCI

Facing Disability Blog

Stay Safe in Hot Weather: The SCI Guide

by Stephanie Lollino

The extreme heat we are experiencing is creating headlines. It seems as though the temperature hits new highs every day.  It's uncomfortable for everyone, but people with spinal cord injuries are at higher risk of quickly becoming sick with heat-related illnesses. That’s because spinal cord injuries make it difficult for the signal that your body is too warm (or too cold) to reach your brain. So the bodies of people with paralysis often miss the signs of overheating.

Here are some heat tips from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

  1. Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting items.
  2. Indoor cooling matters: Stay in air-conditioning as much as possible. Over 90 degrees, fans do not help indoors. If no air conditioning is available, use a cool shower to lower body temps.
  3. Limit outdoor activities: Go outdoors during cooler hours – early morning or late evening. Rest often to give your body time to recover.
  4. Limit exercise during the heat: If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
  5. Use Sunscreen: Getting a sunburn does more than turn skin red. It lowers the body’s ability to cool down especially if you have a spinal cord injury. A wide brim hat and sunglasses are also helpful.
  6. Avoid heavy and spicy meals: Eating cold meals with hydrating, mild ingredients helps keep your body cool.
  7. Stay Hydrated: Drink continually and before you become thirsty. Do not drink alcohol or extremely sugary beverages in the sun. They cause dehydration and the loss of body fluids. Replace fluids by trying a sports drink or waters infused with electrolytes.

Read more about avoiding heat disasters with SCI

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