Written from the perspective of a rehabilitation professional and a physician, a Life Care Plan for an individual with a spinal cord injury requires in-depth knowledge of the anatomy and function of the spinal cord and the corresponding future needs.
A spinal cord injury is the result of damage to the spinal cord or the nerves at the base of the spine. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve fibers and tissue which lies within the spine, forming the brain’s connection to the body. A life care plan for an individual with a spinal cord injury requires the careful analysis of the injury location and severity in order to address future care needs.
Injury to any part of the spinal cord can impact motor, sensory, and reflex capabilities as the brain may be unable to relay information past the location of the injury. The higher the injury occurs in the spinal cord, the greater the damage. Spinal cord injuries may affect one or both sides of the body.
The cervical spine is located at the very top of the spinal column. There are seven vertebral levels within this region (C1-C7), forming the neck. Cervical spinal cord injuries are the most severe of all spinal cord injuries. The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae levels (T1-T12). Injury at the T1 level and below will likely leave the individual with use of the hands. Injuries in the lumbar (L1–L5) and sacral (S1–S5) spine will result in injuries to the corresponding areas where the cord or nerve roots innervate.