Get Answers | How Spinal Cord Injury May Affect Physical Functions - Bard Care

How Spinal Cord Injury May
Affect Other Physical Functions

Depending on the level where a spinal cord injury occurs effects physical functions, starting from the point where the injury is on down the spine.  Loss of neurologic function typically occurs below the level of the injury.  So the higher the spinal injury is to the spinal column, the greater the loss of function typically experienced.

  • Cervical spinal nerves (C1 to C8) emerge from the spinal cord in the neck and control signals to the back of the head, the neck and shoulders, the arms and hands, and the diaphragm.3
  • Thoracic spinal nerves (T1 to T12) emerge from the spinal cord in the upper mid-back and control signals to the chest muscles, some muscles of the back, and many organ systems, including parts of the abdomen.3
  • Lumbar spinal nerves (L1 to L5) emerge from the spinal cord in the low back and control signals to the lower parts of the abdomen and the back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs, and parts of the leg.3
  • Sacral spinal nerves (S1 to S5) emerge from the spinal cord in the low back and control signals to the thighs and lower parts of the legs, the feet, most of the external genital organs, and the area around the anus. 3,10

Please note that this information provided by BARD Medical is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a medical professional. Information is as of 12/2014.  Please check references for updated information. 


  1. Centers for Disease Control Spinal Cord Injury Fact Sheet
  2. National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance: ,
  3. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke –
  4. Cleveland Clinic, Diseases and Conditions – Neurogenic Bladder,
  5. Sauerwein D. Urinary tract infections in patients with Neurogenic bladder dysfunction, Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2002 Jun; 19(6):592-7.
  6. ASIA International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury
  7. Clinical Neuroanatomy, 27th Edition, McGraw-Hill Education, 2014, Chapter 5-The Spinal Cord, Chapter 6. The Vertebral Column and Other Structures
  8. Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine, McGraw-Hill Education, 2012, Chapter 63 – Common Neurosurgical Conditions
  9. Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 5th Edition, McGraw-Hill Education, 2014
  10. Harrisons™ Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th Edition, McGraw-Hill Education, 2012, Chapter 377, Diseases of Spinal Cord
  11. Smith and Tanagho’s General Urology, 18th Edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2013
  12. Textbook of Neurogenic Bladder, J.Corus MD and E.Schick MD, Martin Dunite Ltd., United Kingdon, 2004, Chapter 43 –Conservative Treatment