The skull fully protects the brain, but the spine partially
protects the lower brain stem, spinal cord and nerves. So,
our brain is completely protected by our skull, but since our
spine is not one long enclosed piece of bone like the skull, there are joints and holes called foramen. These joints and foramen (holes) are specifically for movement of the spine, which is crucial for nourishment and brain function. However, because the lower brain stem, spinal cord and nerves are only partially protected by bone (our vertebral column),this leaves room for potential harm and injury, especially to our lower brain stem and upper spinal cord. The upper spinal cord is the thickest part of the entire spine and therefore, contains the most amount of nerve tracts.
Well, the first two bones of the spine, the Atlas or C1 and the Axis or C2, are what protect the lower brain stem and upper spinal cord. This joint (C1/C2) also is the only joint in the spine with no disc space. It is held together by only muscles and ligaments, which makes this joint more movable and therefore more vulnerable to injury/trauma than the rest of the spine. So, if anything happens to this C1/C2 joint it will affect the function of our brain stem, therefore affecting our CNS. In fact, there is another specific part of our nervous system also under control of our brain stem called the Autonomic Nervous system (ANS) which mainly deals with the involuntary function of our internal organs, such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, etc…
It all started in 1895, where an incident of world-wide historical human value took place. Eighteen years previously (In 1877) a man named Harvey Lillard became deaf.
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