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An overview of thoracic spinal cord injuries

The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae, numbered from T-1 down to T-12, in the upper and middle part of the back. Connecting the spine in the neck to the spine in the lower back, it helps keep the body upright and stable. Injuries to the T-1 to T-12 nerves will have different results. New Jersey residents who know someone who has suffered a spine injury should know what these differences are.

The T-1 to T-5 nerves help control the rib cage, diaphragm and lungs in addition to the muscles in the abdomen and elsewhere that help one breathe. Injuries to any of these can affect the abdominal and lower back muscles and the legs, resulting in paraplegia. Except in T-1 injuries, patients normally retain full function of their hands and arms.

The T-6 to T-12 nerves help the body maintain balance and posture and are involved in coughing and the expelling of foreign matter through the airways. Injuries to these can affect the chest, abdominal and back muscles and usually result in paraplegia as well. Patients with damaged nerves will have little or no control over bowel or bladder movements.

A patient's body type and any existing medical conditions will influence the level of independence that they achieve afterward. Some could, for instance, learn to drive a modified car or walk with braces.

Back injuries can be incurred in various ways from car accidents to falls on construction sites. Injured workers may be able to file a workers' compensation claim while those injured on the road or as entrants on someone's property might file a personal injury lawsuit. Whatever the situation, they may want a lawyer to help them gather evidence backing up their claim. For personal injury cases, the lawyer may be able to negotiate for a settlement or litigate if one cannot be agreed upon.

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