Types and Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is an essential part of the body’s central nervous system. It is a column of nerves that runs from the base of the skull to the lower back, carrying signals from the brain to other parts of the body and back again. When a spinal cord injury disrupts this communication, the consequences can be severe.
Injuries to the spinal cord can range in severity. Some complications are temporary and resolve with time. Others are catastrophic, causing permanent disabilities and even shortening a victim’s life expectancy. If you suffered a spinal cord injury at someone else’s hands, you need an attorney who understands these complex injuries and the devastating effects they can have on your health and happiness.
Turn to a spinal cord injury attorney at Recovery Law Center. For over 25 years, our legal team has successfully represented thousands of injured people on Oahu. We know that spinal cord injuries often leave victims in an uncertain place, waiting to learn how much they will recover. The financial and personal costs of this waiting game are burdens you don’t have to bear alone.
While we cannot heal your injuries, we can fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve. Reach out to Recovery Law Center today for a free consultation. Call or contact us now.
Structure of the Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is divided into four regions:
- Cervical – Neck
- Thoracic – Upper back
- Lumbar – Lower back
- Sacral – Above the tailbone
The spinal cord contains 31 pairs of nerves, one for each side of the body. They control motor and sensory communication to different regions and include:
- 8 cervical nerve pairs – Run from the neck through the head and face
- 12 thoracic nerve pairs – Exit through the upper back, chest, and abdomen
- 5 lumbar nerve pairs – Run to the lower limbs
- 5 sacral nerve pairs – Serve the lower back into the pelvis
- 1 coccygeal nerve pair – Located at the base of the spine
Leading Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Honolulu
A spinal cord injury is not necessarily a broken back. It is a broad term comprising a range of injuries that cause damage to the spinal cord itself, which is encased between protective bones called vertebrae. A sudden blow to the spinal column can damage or cut the spinal cord, leading to loss of sensation or motor control in the affected area.
Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in Honolulu include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Moped accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Workplace accidents
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Sports and recreation injuries
- Violent acts, such as gunshots or assault
Victims who sustain severe spinal cord injuries usually face a long period of rehabilitation and experience chronic complications. The treatment costs for physical therapy, additional surgery, and related neurological disorders can be sky-high. A spinal cord injury lawyer can pursue compensation for your past, current, and future medical expenses through a personal injury lawsuit.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury differ depending on where the injury occurred and its severity. Look for these warning signs:
- Loss of movement or function in some part of the body
- Loss of sensation in the hands or feet
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Intense pain
- Difficulty breathing
Seek immediate treatment if you believe you sustained a spinal cord injury. Doctors need to stabilize the spine right away to prevent further damage.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are divided into two types:
- Complete – Permanent damage to the spinal cord occurs with complete spinal cord injuries. Victims lose all sensory and motor function below the affected area.
- Incomplete – An incomplete spinal cord injury involves partial damage to the spinal cord. Victims experience some sensation and movement below the affected area, but how much depends on the extent of the injury.
Categories of Spinal Cord Injuries
In addition to the two types, spinal cord injuries are grouped into the following four categories:
- Cervical – Occur in the neck, often causing total and permanent paralysis
- Thoracic – Affect the upper back and may paralyze the lower body and affect the bladder, bowels, and sexual organs
- Lumbar – Impact the lower back, potentially causing partial paralysis of the lower body
- Sacral – Occur in the sacrum (the triangular bone beneath the lumbar vertebrae) and affect the hips, buttocks, and pelvic organs.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment and Recovery
Unfortunately, many spinal cord injuries are irreversible. Treatment focuses on stabilizing the victim and preventing further damage to the spinal cord, which can occur in the days and weeks following the injury due to bleeding and swelling. Immediate treatments may include medication, immobilization, or surgery.
After a patient stabilizes, the focus turns to rehabilitation and adjusting to a new way of life. Patients might work with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, social worker, and/or other medical professionals who specialize in treating and rehabilitating spinal cord injuries, with the goal of maintaining as active, productive, and independent a life as possible.
Spinal cord injury patients often must relearn basic tasks with the help of specialized equipment and technology. This can allow some survivors to continue working, driving, raising a family, and participating in hobbies they enjoyed before the accident. But that doesn’t mean life is easy. The path to recovery can be long, arduous, and emotionally draining. Spinal cord injury survivors often experience chronic pain and other complications for many years after the initial accident.
Medical researchers continue to develop new treatments and procedures to improve the prognosis and quality of life for spinal cord injury patients.