Many different accidents, from car crashes to farming mishaps to slip-and-fall accidents, can lead to neck injuries. Unfortunately, these injuries can sometimes result in spinal cord damage that lasts the rest of the victim's life.
The location of the injury is one factor that determines impact on the victim. The type of injury and the speed of initial treatment can also have an effect on the outcome.
Injuries at the C2 to C3 level
These are usually the most severe cervical spine injury locations. People injured this high up on the spinal cord aren't likely going to survive because they don't have the ability to breathe. Patients who do survive these injuries are going to suffer from quadriplegia and will be ventilator dependent. They will be fully dependent on others for all forms of care. Christopher Reeve, famous for his role as Superman, lived through an injury that included the C2 vertebrae and spent his final years in a wheelchair and fully dependent on a ventilator to survive.
Injuries at the C4 level
An injury at this level will usually result in difficulties with breathing. This might be so great that the person needs a ventilator to survive. Quadriplegia can occur and a full dependence on others is certain.
Injuries at the C5 level
A C5 injury isn't likely to result in ventilator dependence. The person will likely have some elbow and shoulder function but will be classified as a quadriplegic. They might be able to use assistive devices to feed themselves, but will be almost completed dependent on other people to help them.
Injuries at the C6 level
Using a wheelchair on a surface that's smooth might be possible due to the partial wrist, elbow and shoulder function associated with injuries at this level. Some individuals might be able to dress, feed and groom themselves with a little help. They will need assistance to transfer from one location to another, such as from a wheelchair to bed.
Injuries at the C7 level
A C7 injury will likely result in the victim having quadriplegia but they will have some function in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. These individuals might be able to transfer themselves drive an adapted vehicle. They sometimes can use a wheelchair outdoors and can perform some of their own personal care.
Injuries at the C8 level
A C8 injury will cause quadriplegia, but the person will have full function of their arms. The hands are going to suffer from some weakness in the hands. They are often more independent than individuals who suffer from other cervical spine injuries.