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What is a Spinal Cord Level of Injury?

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The level of injury:

  • Refers to the point where the spinal cord is injured.
  • Marks a border between areas of the body that are affected and not affected by the spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord levels of injury are named according to the corresponding vertebra and spinal nerve exiting from the spinal canal in that area.

For example, you may hear your doctors talk about a C6 level. This means the spinal cord is injured at the level of the backbone’s sixth cervical (neck) vertebra.

Muscles and other organs:

  • At and above the level of C6 still have nerves connected to them.
  • Below C6 have lost communication with the spinal cord and brain.

Likewise, injuries at the:

  • T9 level correspond to the ninth thoracic (chest-level) vertebra
  • L2 level corresponds to the second lumbar (lower back) vertebra

For more information on levels of spinal cord injury, visit:

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