Critical Care Trauma Centre

Question of the Week: May 19, 2000

What function would you expect to find in a
     patient with a complete cord injury where function to C5 is intact?


The nerve root of C5 runs between vertebrae C5 and C4.  Nerve function at C5 includes:

Motor Function
Deltoid present
Pectoralis Absent
Deltoid present
Latissimus Absent
  • movement of the deltoid (abduction of arm - movement of the arm at  shoulder away from midline)
  • weak bicep muscles (able to flex forearm at elbow)
  • lattissmus and pectoralis function is not present at C5
Sensory Function
  • sensation for C5 includes bicep area (C4 provides sensation to shoulder)

Expected level of Function

  • ability to feed self with assisted devices (C5 does not provide any hand movements)
  • ability to operate modified wheel chairs for short distances


Barr, M, and Kiernan, J. (1993). The Human Nervous System: An Anatomical Viewpoint. Philadelphia: Lippincott. pp 84-85.

Keppler, J. (1987). Acute spinal cord injury. Critical Care Clinics. July. 3:3. pp. 638-641.

Netter, F. (1989). Atlas of Human Anatomy. New Jersey: Novartis.

Waxman, S. (1996). Correlative Neuroanatomy. 23rd Ed.  Stamford: Lange. pp 46-52, 352-355, 370.

Brenda Morgan
Clinical Educator, CCTC
May 19, 2000

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