When most people think of spinal cord injuries, they think of trauma that results in a person becoming paralyzed, either partially or completely. However, there is something called an incomplete spinal cord injury that does not completely sever the spinal cord. Individuals who sustain incomplete spinal cord injuries can suffer from a range of disabilities, sometimes minor and sometimes severe. Here, we want to more thoroughly define incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Complete Versus Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries occur in a wide variety of ways, and every injury is different. A complete spinal cord injury is one that results in a completely severed spinal cord. This is a devastating injury, and a person will lose all motion and sensation from the site below the injury.
However, an incomplete spinal cord injury is not a complete severing or compression of the spine. The reality is that there are various types and levels of severity of incomplete spinal cord injuries that can occur. In many cases, a person who sustains an incomplete spinal cord injury will retain some sensation and level of functionality below the site of the injury. The overall severity of an incomplete spinal cord injury will depend on several factors.
Common Causes of Incomplete Spinal Cord Trauma
When we look at data available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see that spinal cord injuries often occur as a result of the careless or negligent actions of others. During the most recent five reporting years, the most common causes of spinal cord trauma include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
- Medical or surgical errors
- Other incidents
Consequences of an Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
As we mentioned, an incomplete spinal cord injury can result in a range of consequences for the victim. The signs and symptoms will vary significantly from incident to incident. Some of the most influential factors on the severity of an incomplete spinal cord injury include the location and severity of the initial injury, how quickly a person receives medical treatment after the injury occurs, and the quality of long-term care available.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of an incomplete spinal cord injury include weakness throughout the body below the injury site, loss of control over one or more limbs, trouble breathing, pain in the arms, legs, or back, or numbness below the injury site.
Individuals may only experience symptoms for a short period of time, depending on the severity of the initial injury. However, more severe and complete spinal cord trauma often results in long-term or lifelong disabilities for a victim.
Any person who sustains an incomplete spinal cord injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of others needs to work with a skilled attorney as soon as possible. These claims can become challenging, and a lawyer can use their resources to fully investigate the incident. They will gather the evidence needed to prove liability and vigorously negotiate with insurance carriers to recover total compensation for their client. The NSCISC says that the first year of medical costs for a spinal cord injury can rise to as much as $1.1 million, and each follow-up year also leads to significant expenses. An attorney can help ease the burden by seeking maximum compensation on behalf of their client.