Can you suffer a spinal cord injury in a trucking accident?

Sadly, the above question’s answer is yes. You can suffer a spinal cord injury in a trucking accident that could paralyze you, forcing you to use a wheelchair for the rest of your life. 

Your spinal cord represents the all-important information highway between your brain and the rest of your body. When you injure it, the messages can no longer pass back and forth. Consequently, you suffer paralysis and loss of sensation below your injury point. 

Spinal cord anatomy

As explained by the Mayfield Clinic, 33 vertebrae surround your spinal cord and protect it. When you sustain an SCI, one or more of those vertebrae in the following three areas of your neck and back breaks or twists, severely damaging the underlying spinal cord: 

  1. The cervical area of your neck that contains seven vertebrae 
  2. The thoracic area of your upper back that contains 12 vertebrae 
  3. The lumbar area of your lower back that contains five vertebrae 

Resulting paralysis

An SCI to your lumbar or lower thoracic vertebrae results in paraplegia, the inability to move or feel your legs, feet, and likely much of anything below your waist. An SCI to your cervical or upper thoracic vertebrae results in quadriplegia, the inability to move or feel much of anything below your shoulders, including your arms, hands, trunk, legs and feet. 

Both paraplegia and quadriplegia represent catastrophic life-changing conditions that not only severely limit your mobility, but could threaten your life as well, especially if they compromise your ability to breathe. Some quadriplegics must rely on constant mechanical ventilation in order to preserve their lives.