C1-C2 Fracture & Spinal Cord Injury
The C1 and C2 vertebrae are the top two of seven vertebrae in the cervical spine. Depending upon their severity, these types of spinal cord injury are categorized as complete or incomplete. Injuries at this top level of the spine can block nerve impulses to the rest of the body below that point, often leading to death or complete paralysis.
The C1 vertebra is also called the Atlas vertebra, named after the mythical ancient Greek hero who bore the weight of the world. The C2 vertebra is also called the Axis because it provides the ability for the head to rotate. The fracture of the C2 vertebra is often called a “Hangman’s fracture.” The combination of C1 and C2 supports the skull, protects the spinal cords, and enables the head to rotate and swivel.
Injuries at the C1-C2 level are less common than at lower levels of the cervical spine. The most frequent causes of fractures at the C1 and C2 levels are diving, motor vehicle collisions, and falls that impact the head.
Symptoms of fractures at C1-C2 include:
- Loss of ability to breathe without help from a ventilator
- Loss of ability to speak
- Loss of feeling or sensation below the level of injury
- Paralysis of arms, hands, torso, and legs
- Limited neck and head movement
That is why a , a C1-C2 fracture spinal cord injury is among the worst injuries a person can have. Fortunately, near our office is one of the top spinal cord injury rehabilitation facilities in the United States, the Shepherd Center. Over the years, families of Shepherd Center patients have often asked us to meet with them at the hospital. Prospects for the degree of recovery from such injuries include considerations of:
The outlook of a person’s recovery from a cervical vertebra injury depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Health and fitness at the time of injury.
- Speed of response in getting appropriate treatment and stabilizing the injury, initially with a hard collar and then typically with external fixation devices.
- The completeness or incompleteness of injury.
- Prompt use of anti-inflammatory and steroid medications to relieve swelling and pressure on the spinal cord.
- Prompt access to therapies and treatments at a specialized spinal cord rehabilitation facility such as the Shepherd Center.
- Ability of the patient, family, friends, and caregivers to adhere to a consistent care plan.
Therefore, a C1-C2 fracture spinal cord injury is among the worst injuries a person can have.
Legal representation of a person with such an injury due to someone else’s negligence generally involves identification of all at-fault parties and insurance coverages, coordination with the medical team and development of the life care plan, understanding of the many medical and rehabilitation issues, empathy is working with a family in severe crisis, and settlement planning to coordinate insurance and governmental benefits through a special need trust.
If you or a loved one has a cervical fracture and spinal cord injury caused by another’s negligence, call us at 404-253-7862.
Johnson & Ward has been a leading personal injury and wrongful death specialty law firm in Atlanta since 1949.
Ken Shigley, senior counsel at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy, and Truck Accident Law). In 2019, he received the Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Shigley was the lead author of eleven editions of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters, 2010-21). He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School.