The spinal cord is the network of nerves and vertebrae that help transmit messages between your body and the brain. Any damage to the spinal cord can be very severe, often resulting in permanent disability, the need for long-term medical care, and several physical and emotional complications. However, not all spinal cord injuries are the same.
Medical professionals classify spinal cord damage based on the severity of the injury and the area of the spinal cord that the damage affects. A spinal cord injury’s classification impacts nearly all aspects of a patient’s treatment plan, including required programs, potential outcomes, and long-term costs.
There are two main types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. Complete spinal cord injuries occur when a patient loses all feeling and motor function at or below his or her injury site. Most patients who suffer from a complete spinal cord injury are permanently paralyzed and develop serious complications, such as breathing difficulties.
On the other hand, incomplete spinal cord injuries occur when a patient retains some feeling or movement below the injury site. The nature and extent of the remaining function depends on the location and severity of the injury.
Medical professionals base outcomes and treatment plans for spinal cord injuries on a number of factors, including the location of the damage. Each section of the spine contains a unique group of nerves that control various body functions. As a result, medical professionals classify levels of spinal cord injuries based on the affected section.
There are four sections of the spinal cord: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral.
If you sustain a spinal cord injury, you can experience painful long-term effects. You may be unable to walk or move without assistance, requiring mobility equipment, modifications to your home or vehicle, and live-in care. Treatment for spinal cord injuries can be very expensive, often exceeding millions of dollars over the average person’s lifetime. You may be unable to return to work, resulting in lost wages, and grapple with psychological trauma.
However, you may have grounds for legal action if someone else caused your spinal cord injury. In these situations, a Portland spinal cord injury lawyer can evaluate your case and determine if you are eligible for financial compensation. After receiving medical attention for your injury, speak to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.