The spinal column, more commonly called the backbone, is made up primarily of vertebrae, discs, and the spinal cord. Acting as a communication conduit for the brain, signals are transmitted and received through the spinal cord.

When an injury to the spinal cord occurs the flow of information from that point down is stopped. This break in instructions to the arms, legs, and other parts of the body will prevent the individual from moving, sometimes breathing, and obstructs or stops any sense of feeling or touch.

Spinal Cord & Column

The spinal column is separated into 5 specific functional areas. Spinal column separated into 5 functional areas: Cervical C1-7, Thoracic T1 - 12, Lumbar L1 - 5, Sacral & Coccyx.

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve cells and fibers wrapped together extending down from the brain stem to the lower back. The cord is protected by a kind of bone tunnel made up of vertebrae which are separated by membranes called discs. The brain sends electrical signals through the spinal cord, giving instructions to the legs, arms, and other areas of the body.


There are 33 vertebrae that make up the bone structure of the spinal column, with the last four being fused together to make the tailbone.


Each vertebrae is separated by a soft bone substance, called a disc, which acts as a cushion and a seal at the same time.

Complete & Incomplete SCI

An SCI is categorized as either "complete" or "incomplete". A "complete" SCI means a total loss of function and sensation below the affected vertebrae, and an "incomplete" SCI means only partial loss of function or sensation.

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Cervical Spine

There are seven cervical bones or vertebrae. The cervical bones are designed to allow flexion, extension, bending, and turning of the head. They are smaller than the other vertebrae, which allows a greater amount of movement.

Spinal Column Section. Each cervical vertebra consists of two parts, a body and a protective arch for the spinal cord called the neural arch. Fractures or injuries can occur to the body, lim pedicles, or processes. Each vertebra articulates with the one above it and the one below it.

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Thoracic Spine

In the chest region the thoracic spine attaches to the ribs. There are 12 vertebrae in the thoracic region.

The spinal canal in the thoracic region is relatively smaller than the cervical or lumbar areas. This makes the thoracic spinal cord at greater risk if there is a fracture.

The motion that occurs in the thoracic spine is mostly rotation. The ribs prevent bending to the side. A small amount of movement occurs in bending forward and backward.

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Lumbar Spine

The lumbar vertebrae are large, wide, and thick. There are five vertebrae in the lumbar spine. The lowest lumbar vertebra, L5, articulates with the sacrum. The sacrum attaches to the pelvis.

The main motions of the lumbar area are bending forward and extending backwards. Bending to the side also occurs.

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