Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Accidents can lead to spinal injuries, many of which can leave you permanently and completely disabled. Even if they don’t, they can still cause you pain and suffering and result in high medical bills, lost ability to work, and diminished quality of life.

The type of spinal cord injury you suffer may affect how much you can recover for personal injury. This ultimately comes down to the severity of the injury and whether it affects your ability to earn a living.

Incomplete Injuries

There are two main types of spinal cord injuries: incomplete and complete. Incomplete spinal injuries involve partial tearing or damage of the spinal cord, and they are classified into the following three categories:

Central cord syndrome: This is damage to the center of the spinal column, affecting nerves that carry messages from the brain. As such, you may experience paralysis of the arms, lost fine motor control, and some impairment of the legs. Bowel, bladder, and sexual function may be impacted as well.

Anterior cord syndrome: Motor and sensory pathways are affected by damage to the front of the spinal cord, making movement difficult. Sensation is still retained, though it will likely be diminished, particularly when it comes to feeling pain and temperature.

Brown-Sequard syndrome: This is where one side of the spinal cord is damaged, resulting in difficulty with movement or sensation on one side of the body. The extent to which Brown-Sequard syndrome affects you depends on where the injury occurred along the spine.

Due in part to improved medical care, incomplete spinal cord injuries are more common than complete ones.

Complete Injuries

A complete spinal cord injury is where the cord is completely cut off, resulting in total loss of function below the point where the injury occurred. Through physical therapy, it is possible to regain some use of your limbs, but it’s a long, arduous process.

Degrees of Paralysis

In addition to the degree of the injury, the location will determine its effects on your ability to move, feel, and function. The following types of injuries are based on where along your spinal cord (moving up and down) your injury occurred:

Tetraplegia: Occurring in the neck (cervical spinal area), tetraplegia affects all limbs and may restrict your ability to breathe. Other bodily functions may also be affected.

Paraplegia: Moving down the spinal cord, paraplegia results in paralysis and loss of sensation in the legs and lower part of the body. The higher up along the thoracic spinal cord this injury occurs, the more severe the impact.

Triplegia: Incomplete injuries can result in triplegia, in which one arm and both legs are paralyzed.

It’s easy to see how these conditions can impact your lifestyle. Living with partial or complete paralysis is very difficult to manage, especially when you have pain, physical and emotional suffering, and medical expenses to deal with.

If you have a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident, you may be owed damages for personal injury. Contact the attorneys at Hart & David to find whether you have a personal injury case.

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