Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries & What to Do

A spinal cord injury is a common outcome of a significant impact, fall, or trauma event. Diagnosing your spinal cord damage type (on your own) is impossible, as is determining a prognosis based solely on your symptoms.

A treating doctor can determine your injury type based on two essential factors: the location of the injury/injury site and current symptoms. Once your injury type is determined, it makes all the difference in the treatment you receive and your ability to go on after such a traumatic injury.

What are the Different Types of Common Spinal Cord Injuries?

A spinal cord injury can injure a few, many, or nearly all of the nerve fibers that cross the injury site. It also results in temporary or permanent alterations in sensation, mobility, strength, and body functions beneath the injury site. Since there are several types of spinal cord injuries, proper identification of the type of spinal cord injury is crucial.

Most cases can be categorized into two forms of spinal cord damage: complete spinal cord injury and incomplete spinal cord injury. Let's dive into the details.

Common Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

An incomplete injury means that the spinal cord can still send and receive messages from the brain. Individuals with partial injuries maintain some sensory function and may be able to control muscle activity below the lesion site.

These types of injuries are more prevalent as over 60% of all spinal cord injuries are incomplete. Incomplete spinal injuries are classified into three types:

  • Anterior Cord Syndrome: occurs at the front of the spinal cord, and the sensory and motor pathways are compromised
  • Central Cord Syndrome: found in the center of the spinal cord and causes nerve damage
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome: this happens when the spinal cord is injured on one side

If you're concerned that your injury doesn't fit this description, you may have a complete spinal injury.

Complete Spinal Cord Injury

A complete injury is more severe since there's no nerve transmission below the damaged site and sensory and motor function.

Complete spinal cord injuries are classified into three types:

  • Tetraplegia: the most severe type that results in paralysis and affects any limb, depending on the location of the injury on the cervical spine
  • Paraplegia: an injured person loses complete mobility and sensation of body parts due to this
  • Triplegia: it affects three limbs, either both arms and one leg or both legs and one arm, resulting in partial or complete paralysis

Understanding the location and severity of your injury helps you research your prognosis and ask informed questions to initiate physical therapy or rehabilitation.

If you have been involved in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury, seeking legal representation is essential. At Whalen Injury Lawyers, we exclusively represent clients in personal injury matters and have over a decade of experience in this field.

Our Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys team has the experience and expertise to help you navigate the legal system and get the medical treatment and support you need. With over $50 million in settlements, judgments and verdicts along with a different approach to personal injury representation, we're here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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