What is an Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury?

February 15, 2022 | Brain and Spinal Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating, but not all spinal cord injuries are exactly alike. At a broad level, spinal cord trauma can be placed into two main categories – complete spinal cord injuries and incomplete spinal cord injuries. Here, we want to briefly describe what a complete spinal cord injury is and then delve into understanding incomplete spinal cord injuries and how these injuries can affect victims.

Difference Between a Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

When most people think of spinal cord injuries, they think of a complete spinal cord injury. That is, they think of the spinal cord becoming completely severed as a result of a devastating traumatic incident. When the spinal cord is completely severed at the site of the injury, this is considered a complete spinal cord injury. Individuals typically lose all use of motion below the site of the injury, meaning complete paralysis from the site of the injury downward. 

However, an incomplete spinal cord injury refers to the types of trauma that can occur to the spinal cord that does not result and they complete severing or compression of the cord. Generally, individuals who sustain incomplete spinal cord injuries retain some level of functionality and sensation below the injury site. The overall severity of incomplete spinal cord injuries revolves around several factors.

Causes of Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Information presented by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) indicates that spinal cord injuries occur in a variety of ways. Over the last five years, the leading causes of complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Vehicle accidents – 38.2%
  • Falls – 32.3%
  • Violence – 14.3%
  • Sports incidents – 7.8%
  • Medical or surgical errors – 4.1%
  • Other – 3.3%

Long-Term Consequences of an Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

There are various symptoms individuals can experience if they sustain an incomplete spinal cord injury in Indiana. The symptoms of incomplete spinal cord injuries can vary greatly from person to person, with some of the factors that influence these injuries including the location of the injury, the type of injury, how quickly a person receives medical care, and the quality of long term care applied after the injury occurs.

Some of the initial signs of an incomplete spinal cord injury include:

  • Weakness in the body below the site of injury 
  • Loss of control over one or more limbs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the back, arms, or legs
  • Numbness or sensation issues below the injury site

Depending on the severity of the injury, individuals may experience these symptoms for only a short amount of time, but they could sustain long-lasting and lifetime disabilities as a result of the spinal cord trauma.

It is crucial for any spinal cord injury victim harmed by the negligent actions of another individual or entity to work with an attorney as soon as possible. A spinal cord injury lawyer in Indiana can examine the facts of the case, gather evidence needed to prove liability, and handle all communication and negotiation with other parties involved. A lawyer will work to obtain maximum compensation on behalf of their client. Spinal cord injuries can become incredibly costly. It is not uncommon for lifetime costs of spinal cord injuries to reach more than $1 million. An attorney can help ensure that incomplete spinal cord injury victims receive the money they need so they can continue all necessary medical treatment.