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Types of spinal cord injuries

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Spinal Cord Injury |

Spinal cord injuries are life-changing events that can significantly impact an individual’s mobility, sensation and quality of life. These injuries occur when there’s damage to the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal.

The aftermath of sustaining an injury can range from experiencing minor symptoms to severe paralysis, depending on various factors such as the location and extent of the injury. Understanding spinal cord injuries’ specifics is crucial for prevention and treatment alike.

Complete versus incomplete

SCIs are generally categorized into two types: complete and incomplete. A complete SCI is a total loss of sensation and muscle function below the injury site. Typically, both sides of the body are equally affected. An incomplete injury means that there is still some function or sensation below the level of damage. The extent can vary widely in incomplete injuries. These injuries usually heal better than complete SCIs.

Location of the injury

The location of a spinal cord injury plays a crucial role in determining the extent of the damage and the subsequent level of impairment. Injuries can occur at any part of the spinal cord—cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral.

  • Cervical injuries in the neck region are usually the most severe and can lead to quadriplegia, affecting all four limbs.
  • Thoracic injuries in the upper back often result in paraplegia, affecting the lower part of the body.
  • Lumbar and sacral injuries in the lower back and pelvis generally lead to some loss of function in the hips and legs.

The effects of an SCI are always below the level of the injury. For this reason, higher injuries usually impact more of the body.

Promptness of treatment

The speed at which a person gets treatment can significantly affect their long-term outcome. Immediate medical attention is crucial for stabilizing the patient and minimizing the extent of the injury. Delays in treatment can exacerbate the condition, which can lead to complications like respiratory distress, blood clots or severe swelling around the spinal cord.

Understanding the intricacies of spinal cord injuries is crucial for everyone involved. Victims of SCIs often face a long road to recovery that will require considerable medical care. They may opt to pursue a claim for compensation if the injury was the result of another party’s negligence in order to better ensure that they are not financially burdened by losses that should be rightfully shouldered by those who caused their harm.