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The Anatomy of a Spinal Cord Injury

When you are deciding whether to pursue legal action for your spinal cord injury, working closely with an attorney who will explain all of your rights, options and their consequences can help you make the right decision for your situation. Contact our firm today to speak with a lawyer experienced in representing clients in spinal cord injury cases.

Learn More About Spinal Cord Injury Claims

At Kolker & Germeroth, L.L.C., we represent clients in St. Louis and throughout Missouri who have sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of negligence. For more details about how we handle these claims, please visit our Spinal Cord Injuries page.

Below you will find some general information about how the law handles these claims. To get information about your specific case, contact our firm to speak with an experienced attorney.

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Our accomplished trial attorneys help individuals and families throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois who have been affected by a spinal cord injury. Each of our lawyers has more than 15 years of experience and has secured settlements and verdicts in excess of $1 million.

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of another's negligence, you deserve representation from a personal injury attorney who will aggressively protect your rights. Do not hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

The Anatomy of a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are serious and it may not be obvious that someone has a spinal cord injury. The treatment given to a person immediately after he of she has suffered one of these injuries is critical to limiting the amounting of harm done and preventing secondary injuries from occurring. Contact an attorney from Kolker & Germeroth, LLC in Clayton, Missouri today if you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury. You may be eligible for compensation for your injury.

The Spine

The spinal cord is surrounded by bone called the vertebrae that protects the fragile cord from injury. The spinal cord and vertebra make up the spinal column. The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system and delivers signals between the brain and the rest of the body. The cord is made up of many types of nerve fibers and cells. The spinal column is divided into five distinct segments from top to bottom:

  • Cervical vertebrae (neck) -- controls back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, diaphragm
  • Thoracic vertebrae (upper back) -- controls chest muscles, some back muscles, parts of the abdomen
  • Lumbar vertebrae (middle back) -- controls lower abdomen, lower back, buttocks, some parts of the legs, some parts of the external genital organs
  • Sacral vertebrae (hips) -- controls thighs, lower parts of legs, feet, most of the external genital organs, area around the anus
  • Coccygeal vertebrae (tailbone) -- controls sensation from the skin on the lower back

Level of Injury

The level of injury refers to the segment damaged by the injury, below which function has been lost, either completely or partially — meaning that the ability of the brain to send and receive messages down the spinal cord has been impaired or severed altogether. The higher up the level of injury on the spinal column, the more function lost. For example, a person in a car accident who suffers a C5 injury will have lost more function than a person in a similar accident with a L4 injury.

Complete vs. Incomplete Injury

An incomplete injury means that the injured person retains some level of function below the level of injury. This function can be mobility (ability to move) or sensory (ability to feel sensation). A complete injury means that the injured person does not retain any function below the level of injury on either side of the body, meaning he or she cannot move or feel anything below this level.

Immediate Treatment of SCI

While a spinal cord injury can occur from an illness or disease (like a tumor), the most common cause is a traumatic injury that dislocates or fractures the vertebra protecting the spinal cord. This contact can cause hemorrhage and swelling of the spinal cord, tearing of the cord or disruption of the spinal nerves. The spinal cord is rarely severed completely.

Immediately after a suspected spinal cord injury, it is vitally important to take action to stabilize the spine and prevent or minimize secondary injuries. Secondary injuries are those that occur after the initial trauma and can exacerbate the damage to the spinal cord.

Thus, immediate treatment of a spinal cord injury includes:

  • Determining if there are any structural problems with the spine that need to be surgically repaired
  • Determining if there is compression on the spine that needs to be surgically relieved
  • Minimizing the damage to the nerve cells with the use of steroids (methylprednisolone)
  • Stabilizing and reducing the vertebrae
  • Immobilizing the patient

If the person suffered a high spinal cord injury in the cervical vertebrae, he or she may be unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator. If you come into contact with a person you suspect has suffered a spinal cord injury, call an ambulance and do not attempt to move him or her, or you could make the injury worse.


If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer from Kolker & Germeroth, LLC to explore your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injury.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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