There are few injuries that are worse than damage to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries occur in all types of scenarios, either from a direct blow to the spine, a twisting of the spine, or a compression to the head or even through the feet such as from a fall from a height. Many of these types of injuries happen in car wrecks, to pedestrians or cyclists, during work-related accidents, or during sports. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at UAB reports that 12,500 people are victim suffer spinal cord injuries annually.
Categories of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to BrainandSpinalCord.com, there are two types of spinal cord injuries: a complete injury and an incomplete injury. While an incomplete injury causes partial sensory and mobility loss below the location of the spinal damage, a complete injury leaves the victim with no feeling or mobility below the site. Depending on the severity of the injury, a spinal cord victim will either have a complete or incomplete injury.
Defining Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Incomplete spinal cord injuries are more common than complete injuries, and will be re-examined six to eight weeks after the injury after the shock of the injury has time to fade. An incomplete injury leaves the patient either little or no sensation, yet some mobility, or little or no mobility, yet some sensation. The five variations of incomplete spinal cord injuries are listed below.
- Anterior Cord Syndrome is an injury to the front of the spinal cord. It impairs sensations such as touch, feel, pain, and temperature below the injury site but some mobility may be recovered at a later time.
- Brown-Sequard Syndrome is an injury to only one side of the spinal cord. For one side of the body, mobility is impaired and sensation is kept, and to the other side of the body mobility is kept and sensation is impaired.
- Cauda Equina Lesion injury completely or partially impairs sensation, though in some cases nerves can regrow and function becomes improved.
- Central Cord Syndrome is an injury that impairs arm movement but retains some leg function. Partial recovery may be possible depending on the person and the injury.
- Posterior Cord Syndrome is an injury that impairs coordination but does not reduce muscle power or the nerves’ ability to sense pain and temperature.
Defining Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
Unlike an incomplete spinal cord injury, a complete injury results in full loss of mobility and sensation below the injury site. A complete injury results in paraplegia or tetraplegia. The definition of paraplegia is the total loss of mobility and sensation at or below T1. The victim will have no ability to move or feel their legs or control their bowel or bladder. However, some paraplegics have some trunk mobility that allows them to stand or even walk short distances when using special equipment. Paraplegics have motor control and sensation of their arms.
However, some victims of complete paraplegia have partial trunk movement that may allow them to stand or walk for short distances by using special equipment. Despite this, most complete paraplegics rely on self-propelled wheelchairs. Complete tetraplegia is the loss of mobility and sensation from the injury site down, which includes arms, hands, and legs. Some tetraplegics have some hand or arm mobility, while others may depend on ventilators to breathe.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a spinal cord injury contact an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina, personal injury attorney today for legal advice. An attorney can help ensure you recover compensation for your injuries.