Spinal cord injuries frighten many people, but they aren’t all the same. Most people assume that a spinal cord injury will result in the permanent loss of sensation and function. That is certainly true in some spinal cord injury cases, but it is not a universal truth.
Like many other injuries, spinal cord injuries vary drastically in severity and the long-term impact a cause for someone. Still, even the least serious spinal cord injury will likely require tens of thousands of dollars in trauma care and could drastically impact someone’s lifetime earning potential.
What factors influence the consequences of a spinal cord injury and the long-term prognosis of the patient with one?
The location of the injury is crucial to its impact
One of the main descriptive terms used for spinal cord injuries is the vertebra or spinal bone most closely located to the spinal cord injury. Injuries to the cervical spine, for example, may result in tetraplegia, sometimes also called quadriplegia. This kind of injury will impact motor function and sensation in all four limbs.
A spinal cord injury in the lower back or lumbar spine, on the other hand, may only impact sensation and function in the legs. Someone with a higher injury location will typically require more intervention and support to care for themselves after their injury than someone with a low spinal injury.
The completeness of the injury
Doctors typically also classify every spinal cord injury either as complete or incomplete. As you might guess from the terms, a complete spinal cord injury involves the complete severing of the spinal cord. An incomplete injury might involve the partial cutting or tearing of the spinal cord or even pinching of the spinal cord.
Complete spinal cord injuries typically result in a permanent loss of function and sensation below the injury site. Incomplete injuries could potentially worsen if the person exacerbates it or improve with therapy and possibly surgery. Regardless of the specifics of the injury, the chances are good that it will cost tens of thousands of dollars every year for the rest of someone’s life.
Understanding the impact of a spinal cord injury can help you handle an insurance claim or lawsuit after a car crash.