The C1 vertebra, also known as Atlas, along with the C2 vertebra, also known as Axis, are the first two segments in the cervical spine. These levels are especially important, as they support the head. The Atlas vertebra pivots on the Axis vertebra which allows the head to rotate.
Injuries to the spinal cord at the C1 & C2 vertebral levels are considered to be the most severe of all spinal cord injuries as they can lead to full paralysis but are most often fatal. The injury may be categorized as complete or incomplete depending upon its severity.
Patients that survive spinal cord injuries at the C1 and/or C2 levels will likely have the following symptoms:
There are many possible causes which may lead to spinal cord injury. The following are the most common:
Treatment options for injuries to the spinal cord at the C1 and C2 levels will not reverse the damage. Survivors of cervical spinal cord injuries at this level will likely require assistance for the remainder of their life. Treatments are done to aid in symptom relief, prevent further spinal cord damage, and to aid the patient in using the remaining function of their body.
Current possible treatments include:
Medical researchers are continuously looking for treatment options for spinal cord injury patients. The use of stem cells has shown promising results in regenerating function lost due to this debilitating injury. Injecting these cells into the injured spinal cord may improve overall function and aid in the recovery of the spinal cord. Although this research is still in its infancy, human patient studies have reported improved walking and sensory perception.
For Kristen and Jeff Sachs, the day that changed both of their lives started as a low-key beach event with three other families. Jeff dove into the ocean, pausing briefly to give his wife an affectionate thumbs-up. It was the last time he would ever be able to dive.
On his way down, he hit his head on a sand bar, injuring his C4 vertebra. These sorts of injuries are notoriously challenging, and Jeff was instantly paralyzed.
Kristen Sachs Spinal Cord Injury Survivor[fa icon="quote-right"]
June 17, 2000, started out like any other normal Saturday. It was the beginning of summer break, between her junior and senior years of high school, and Dana was meeting her mom to get pictures taken for their theme park season passes.
Dana was waiting at a red light behind five other cars when she took a quick glance into her rearview mirror. She had no way of knowing that what she saw was about to change the rest of her life.
Dana Guest Founder of Push Nation Fest[fa icon="quote-right"]
Spinal cord injuries are traumatic for patients and their families. They cause disruptive changes to every aspect of your life and there is a lot of new information to navigate and understand. Our experts have collected everything in one place to help you learn more about your injury, locate doctors and treatment centers, find financial support, and get assistance navigating your next move.