Spinal Cord Injury Levels - Functionality of C7 - C8 Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Injury Level Sections

C1 - C3 : C4 : C5 : C6 : C7 - C8 : T1 - T4 : T5 - T9 : T10 - L1 : L2 - S5

Mobility & Movement

A person with a spinal cord injury of between C7-C8 would have full head and neck movement with good muscle strength. The shoulder muscles, biceps, triceps, wrist extensors, wrist flexors would be preserved with good strength. A C7 tetraplegic would have movement in the thumb and partial use of the fingers. A C8 tetraplegic would have better hand function but not some of the finer finger functions.

C7-C8 tetraplegics have varying degrees of pectoral muscle use, resulting in varying strength. Abdominal muscles and mid to lower back muscle use as well as leg muscle use will be lost.

Sympathetic nervous system will be compromised, possibility of autonomic dysreflexia.

A manual wheelchair is usually preferred to enable independence, however power assisted wheels are also utilised for outdoor activities of longer duration.

Ability to transfer independently from bed to chair, and chair to car. Car transfers may need assistance depending on upper body strength.

Ability to drive a car adapted with hand controls. Assistance may be required to load wheelchair into car independently.

Ability to feed self independently during mealtimes.

Respiratory System

Able to breathe without a ventilator using diaphragm. Low stamina.

Assistance required to clear secretions and assistance in coughing may be required. Additional coughing techniques can be applied to assist in coughing by leaning forward whilst exhaling.

Personal Care

Ability to manage bladder and bowel independently will vary depending on strength and dexterity.

Independent in upper body showering and dressing, lower body dressing and showering may need assistance.

Independent in grooming, usually without palm straps.

Domestic Care

Partial domestic assistance is required, such as heavy household cleaning, home maintenance, and complex preparation of meals.

Ability to prepare simple meals and simple general household duties independently.


A computer may be operated using a typing stick or voice recognition. Telephone can be used using voice recognition and headset.

The above functionality guide is only a general guide. Abilities will vary depending on the persons weight, existing medical conditions and age.