A spinal cord injury (SCI) is any injury to the spinal cord that causes loss of function, including mobility and feeling. Most of these injuries are due to accidents or diseases like spina bifada or tumors. The T8 paraplegic is an individual who has a SCI of the eighth thoracic vertebra.
SCI does not always occur, even when bones are broken in the spinal column. The spinal column is the vertebrae (bones) that surround and protect the spinal cord. If bones are broken in such a way as to affect the cord, there will be some loss of ability to function. The higher up on the cord, the worse the effects will be. The T8 (eighth thoracic bone) is located midway down the back and thus affects the legs instead of the arms or breathing.
There are two types of SCI: complete and incomplete. A complete injury means there is no feeling or mobility below the injury. An incomplete means there is some function below the injury, and usually more on one side than another. Someone who is a T8 paraplegic has a complete injury.
The T8 paraplegic is someone whose SCI is on the eighth thoracic vertebra. The spinal cord is composed of (from neck down) eight cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar and five sacral vertebrae. The cervical injuries cause the most damage because they are the highest up. T1 to T8 paraplegics are people whose injuries are in one of the first eight thoracic bones, and as such, they are not able to use their legs. They also have poor trunk control, though they usually retain good hand control.
Those who are T8 paraplegics often have other areas of difficulty in addition to mobility and sensation. Some of these include dysfunction of bladder and bowel and sexual dysfunction They also have an inability to regulate body temperature and can suffer from low blood pressure.
It is interesting to note that almost 78 per cent of SCI are in males. Forty two percent of SCI are caused by motor vehicle accidents, followed closely by falls. Sports injuries are down, but violence has risen as a cause. Since most SCI, including T8 injuries, are preventable, it is important to take normal safety precautions when going about your life. These include wearing helmets when necessary, wearing seat belts, and not drinking and driving. While you cannot predict what will happen, you can be informed and proactive.