Somatic and Autonomic Nerve Damage Due to Personal Injuries
Nerves are used by your brain to communicate with the rest of your body. Your nerves help you feel and move your muscles. They also help you breathe, sweat, and digest your food. Nerve cells are known as neurons. The nerves, brain, and spinal cord together compose your central nervous system, and the nerves in the other parts of your body (the various organs and organ systems) are part of the peripheral nervous system.
Nerves are also divided into spinal nerves and cranial nerves:
- Spinal nerves. There are 31 spinal nerves, named for the level of the spinal cord at which each one emerges. There are eight pairs of cervical nerves designated C1 to C8, 12 thoracic nerves designated T1 to T12, five pairs of lumbar nerves designated L1 to L5, five pairs of sacral nerves designated S1 to S5, and one pair of coccygeal nerves.
- Cranial nerves. There are 12 pairs of cranial nerves that “originate at the underside of the brain. In order from front to back these are the olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, vestibulocochlear, glossopharyngeal, vagus, spinal accessory, and hypoglossal nerves.” These nerves help with sight, facial movements, smell, salivation, and tongue movements.
The Cleveland Clinic states that nerves control voluntary movement, the senses (including touch, pain, balance, smell, sight, feeling hot or cold, and vibration), breathing, digestion, blood pressure, heart rate, and stress response.
What is the somatic nerve supply?
According to Brain Made Simple, there are two different types of nerve supplies. The two supplies are the somatic nerve supply and the autonomic nerve supply.
The somatic nerve supply refers to the voluntary control of the skeletal muscles. Your “skeletal muscle sends sensory information to the brain and receives motor impulses through the somatic nerves.”
- The cranial nerves use the somatic nerve supply to communicate with the upper parts of the human body – the head, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, neck, and other upper parts.
- The spinal nerves use the somatic nerve supply to communicate with the lower parts of the human body – the abdomen, thorax, upper limbs, lower limbs, and organs in the middle and lower part of the body.
The somatic nerve supply controls all the voluntary muscle movements and the “process of a voluntary reflex arc,” which is a pathway that carries sensory information just to the spinal cord, and not to the brain.
There are two types of somatic nerves:
- The sensory nerve supply carries sensory information to the central nervous system. Per Brain Made Simple, “The sensory nerves are all those nerves that can sense or recognize internal or external stimuli,” and “The sensory nerves link different sensory neurons throughout the body.”
- The motor nerve supply transmits information to the muscles. Motor nerves “carry information from the central nervous system to the effector muscles.” There are alpha motor neurons, beta motor neurons, and gamma motor neurons. The motor nerve supply causes responses in your muscles and glands.
The autonomic nerve supply
The autonomic nerves are part of the autonomic nervous system. These nerves act unconsciously and regulate body functions such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and digestion. The various body organs receive their autonomic nerve supply through cranial and spinal nerves. The autonomic nerve supply is divided into the following systems:
- Sympathetic nerve supply. “The sympathetic nerve supply prepares the body for a ‘fight and flight’ response by increasing heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood supply to the brain, and skeletal muscles. It decreases urinary output and promotes emission before ejaculation in Ductus Deferens.”
- Parasympathetic nerve supply. “The parasympathetic nerve fibers arise from the brain in the form of some cranial nerves and also from the sacral region of the spinal cord.” Generally, this system regulates digestion and other metabolic functions. These nerves also regulate sexual activity, micturition, and defecation.
- Enteric system. “The enteric nerve supply controls the autonomic function of the gastrointestinal tract.”
What parts of the body can fail if the nerve supplies are damaged?
Many parts of your body are innervated (controlled or affected) by certain nerves.
- Eyes. The eye muscles are innervated by six cranial nerves.
- Ears. There are four sensory nerves that supply the ear. These nerves affect hearing and balance.
- Lungs. “The lungs are innervated by the nerves coming from the pulmonary plexus which contain sympathetic, parasympathetic, and sensory fibers.”
- Heart. “The nerve supply to the heart is autonomic and contains both sympathetic and parasympathetic fibers.”
- Stomach. “The vagus nerve contains parasympathetic fibers for the stomach and supplies the stomach through anterior and posterior vagal trunks.”
Other critical parts of the body that are innervated by various nerves include your liver, kidneys, skin, small intestine, and large intestine.
Damage to any part of these critical body parts can cause catastrophic injuries. Vancouver and Battle Ground nerve damage victims may suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, paralysis, respiratory disorders, heart failure, loss of kidney function, vision loss, hearing damage, and other life-changing injuries. Tragically, the damage could be fatal.
What types of accidents cause nerve damage?
Car accidents, construction accidents, and many other types of accidents can cause damage to both types of nerve supplies. Any type of cut or laceration may damage the somatic nerve supply. Any type of crushing injury, such as rib injuries, may damage the autonomic nerve supply.
The diagnosis and treatment for nerve orders vary depending on the type and severity of the nerve damage. Many victims of car accidents, premises liability accidents, and other types of accidents require surgery, long-term rehabilitative therapy, and other medical care. Many victims live with chronic nerve damage pain.
At Philbrook Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers work with your doctors and our own network of doctors to fully understand what medical care you need and will need for the rest of your life. We review with your medical team and you all the ways your nerve damage is affecting every aspect, every minute of your life. We demand compensation from every negligent driver, property owner, or other responsible parties for all your financial and personal damages.
To schedule an appointment with our Vancouver, WA and Battle Ground, WA personal injury lawyers, call our offices or fill out our contact form.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.