Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

August 31, 2022 Posted In Personal Injury

Suffering a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident can be a life altering situation, especially if the accident was someone else’s fault. Not all injuries are evident right when they happen. It can help to know a bit more about the types of spinal cord injuries a person can suffer from in order to know the signs that something is wrong after an accident. 

The type of spinal cord injury that a person develops depends on two main factors, the severity of the injury and the location along the spine that the injury occurs. 

types of spinal cord injuries

What Are The Two Types of Spinal Cord Injury?

While there are many different ways that the spinal cord can be injured in an accident, they can be divided into two main types. 

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

An incomplete spinal cord injury occurs when the spinal cord is damaged but does not fully lose the ability to send nerve impulses to the brain. This means that however faint it may be, the person still has feeling below the spot of the injury. When this type of injury happens it can be difficult to tell the full extent of the injury at first because the person may still have at least some feeling and mobility in the affected area. 

Some  examples of an incomplete spinal cord injury include things like spinal compression that occurs when the vertebrae are pushed together. A bulging or herniated disc is another type of partial injury that many people suffer from. These types of injuries occur when the spine suffers a sudden impact which causes the vertebrae to become out of alignment. The more severe the impact, the more severe the injury. 

Side effects of these types of injuries include pain, swelling, stiffness, loss of range of motion, partial numbness or paralysis, and even interrupted blood flow. While it is possible to recover from an incomplete spinal cord injury, there is often permanent lasting damage to the nerves and the vertebrae that can cause lifelong pain and suffering. 

Complete Spinal Cord Injury

A complete spinal cord injury is the most serious type of spinal cord injury and occurs whenever the spinal cord is injured so severely that the portion of the spine below the injury can no longer transmit nerve signals to the brain. This results in some form of full paralysis depending on where the injury happens along the spine. 

There are 3 types of paralysis that can result from a full spinal cord. The first is known as paraplegia which is caused when the lower portion of the spine is injured causing the legs and lower extremities to become paralyzed. Some people retain feeling in the middle torso and some hip movement, while others are completely paralyzed from the waist down. 

The second type is known as triplegia, where both legs and one arm are paralyzed. This can happen if damage is done to the middle and upper portions of the spine, causing one sided paralysis of the upper torso and full paralysis of the lower body. 

Lastly, tetraplegia is the paralysis of all 4 limbs. This is the result of an upper spine injury. In some cases the person may still have movement of the neck and shoulder or chest area and in others the person may be paralyzed from the neck down. It is generally impossible to recover from a complete spinal cord injury and this results in a lifetime of medical expenses. 

If you or a loved one suffer a spinal cord injury after an accident, it is important to contact a San Bernardino spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible to try and get compensation for your injuries. Though no amount of money can make you whole again after a spinal cord injury, having the money to pay medical bills and other expenses makes it possible to focus solely on recovery. 

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