C1 & C2 Spinal Injuries

Injuries to the first cervical levels of the spine are considered to be the most severe of all spinal cord injuries.

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C1 and C2 Vertebrae-1

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.  

Learn more about the anatomy of the spine in our free eBook, The Simplified Guide to Spinal Cord Injuries.


Inability to breathe without assistance from a ventilator is a symptom of  C1 and C2 injury

Patients that survive spinal cord injuries at the C1 and/or C2 levels will likely have the following symptoms:

  • Inability to breathe without assistance from a ventilator
  • Inability or reduced ability to speak
  • Loss of feeling or sensation below the level of injury
  • Paralysis in the arms, hands, trunk, and legs
  • Limited neck and/or head movement


There are many possible causes which may lead to spinal cord injury. The following are the most common:

  • Trauma, such as sports-related injuries
  • Car accidents
  • Slip and/or fall
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Diseases
  • Tumors
  • Infections


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:

  • Surgery to relieve pressure from the spinal cord and fuse the affected segments together to prevent movement (movement could lead to further damage to the spinal cord).
  • Prescription drugs to aid in the recovery of sensory and motor function, as well as to reduce inflammation in the affected area.
  • Physical therapy to strengthen other areas of the body so the patient can learn to use the remaining body function.   

Additional Information

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.

Selecting A Law Firm

Swope, Rodane P.A. is a personal injury law firm that specializes in catastrophic injuries. Their team of legal experts is selective about the cases they take and spend more time working on fewer cases. This ensures that they give each of their clients the time, attention, and effort their case deserves.

Their team uses state-of-the-art facilities and resources — mock courtrooms, conference rooms, and an in-house video production capabilities — and their firm maintains a private aircraft that allows them to avoid the distractions and delays of dealing with commercial airlines. This investment in our team and clients demonstrates that no corner of the country, piece of evidence, or client in need is beyond their reach.

“They’re the kind of attorneys that good attorneys go to. We needed fire power, we needed expertise. I considered a number of firms but there was really only one choice.” – Marcus Viles, Co-Counsel Attorney, Video Testimonial
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