Types and Levels of Spinal Cord Injury

Learn more about the effects of each type of spinal cord injury.

There are four sections of the spinal cord: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Each section of the spine protects different groups of nerves that control the body. The types and severity of spinal cord injuries can depend on the section of the spine that is injured.

Learn about the sections of the spine, types of spinal cord injuries, and possible recovery outcomes.

Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries

The head and neck region above the shoulders are affected by cervical spinal cord injuries

Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries

The hips and legs are affected by lumbar spinal cord injuries.

Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries

The upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles are affected by injuries to the thoracic spinal cord.

Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries

The hips, back of the thighs, buttocks, and pelvic organs are affected by injuries to the sacral spinal cord.

Complete Spinal Cord Injury versus Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two types of injury – complete and incomplete:

  • A complete spinal cord injury causes permanent damage to the area of the spinal cord that is affected. Paraplegia or tetraplegia are results of complete spinal cord injuries.
  • An incomplete spinal cord injury refers to partial damage to the spinal cord. The ability to move and the amount of feeling depends on the area of the spine injured and the severity of the injury. Outcomes are based on a patient’s health and medical history.