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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 PEOPLE, REAL EXPERIENCES

Everybody in these videos
is living with a spinal cord injury 

CLICK ON A PERSON TO WATCH THEIR VIDEO

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

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

Mallory Weggemann Goes for the Gold…Again

Mallory Weggemann has been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven.  In 2008, an epidural injection left her with paraplegia at T10—from the abdomen down. 

A year and a half later,  she was back in the pool again—this time competing as a Paralympian. She broke her first set of world records at the 2009 Can Am Speedo Para Swim Meet. Over the next four years she broke 34 American Records, 15 World Records, becoming a twelve time World Champion and became a two-time Paralympic Medalist at the London 2012 Games – one gold, the other bronze.

She got married in 2017, became a motivational speaker, disability rights advocate and writer. (See this post for more about her wedding from 2017)

Her husband is also her coach.

A fall from a hotel shower chair in 2014 permanently damaged a nerve in her arm, putting even more strain on her swim training and on her wheelchair use than ever before.  She considered retiring, but after extensive surgery, she decided to try again.  So as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games approach, Mallory is planning her comeback.

"Who knows if I will reach this next high in the sky goal," Weggemann says, "But I have learned that you never know unless you put yourself out there, unless you are willing to start at the bottom just for a chance to see how far you can climb."

...

READ MORE

Facing Disability Blog

Mallory Weggemann Goes for the Gold…Again

Mallory Weggemann has been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven.  In 2008, an epidural injection left her with paraplegia at T10—from the abdomen down. 

A year and a half later,  she was back in the pool again—this time competing as a Paralympian. She broke her first set of world records at the 2009 Can Am Speedo Para Swim Meet. Over the next four years she broke 34 American Records, 15 World Records, becoming a twelve time World Champion and became a two-time Paralympic Medalist at the London 2012 Games – one gold, the other bronze.

She got married in 2017, became a motivational speaker, disability rights advocate and writer. (See this post for more about her wedding from 2017)

Her husband is also her coach.

A fall from a hotel shower chair in 2014 permanently damaged a nerve in her arm, putting even more strain on her swim training and on her wheelchair use than ever before.  She considered retiring, but after extensive surgery, she decided to try again.  So as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games approach, Mallory is planning her comeback.

"Who knows if I will reach this next high in the sky goal," Weggemann says, "But I have learned that you never know unless you put yourself out there, unless you are willing to start at the bottom just for a chance to see how far you can climb."

Read More

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