What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

By Peter DePaolis

Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys with the Experience and Expertise to Fight for Victim’s Rights Serving the  Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland Area

Spinal cord injuries occur in the United States daily. In fact, an estimated 12,500 spinal cord injuries occur each year, leaving victims, their family, friends, and others to cope with the aftermath of such a tragic injury. For many, spinal cord challenges require going through the complex health care system and often is overwhelming with the numerous care requirements and lifestyle changes a victim and their loved ones must make.

While educating yourself and your loved ones on what to expect is ideal, you still need protection for the suffering that is soon to come. You might be unable to work permanently, enjoy your life, and have insurmountable amounts of medical costs.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries involve any form of damage to the spinal cord, nerves, or the spinal canal. Often, these injuries result in permanent damage to the spine which means decreased strength, limited sensation, and the inability to control normal bodily functions.

The Most Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries come in many forms but are broken into two specific categories: complete and incomplete.

  • Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries: With the incomplete spinal cord injury, the cord is partially severed, which means the victim can retain some functions. However, the degree of function depends on the extent of the partial injury. In some cases, the victim might have limited mobility or sensation issues.
  • Complete Spinal Cord Injuries: Complete injuries are much more severe and create long-term problems for the victim. Not only is the spinal cord completely severed, but now the victim can only regain minimal function through therapy – and not all therapy is successful.

The more common out of the two categories is that of the incomplete spinal cord injury, especially in a motor vehicle accident.

Within the incomplete spinal cord injury category, there are a few common injuries, such as:

  • Anterior Cord Syndrome – Anterior cord syndrome means that the damage is on the frontal area of the spinal cord, and the damages affect the victim’s sensory and motor pathways. While they might have some sensation, they struggle with movement.
  • Central Cord Syndrome – Central cord syndromes focus on the center of the spinal cord. These injuries affect the nerves which carry signals between the spinal cord and brain. Most victims lose fine motor skills and have paralysis of the upper extremities. Survivors may have bladder and bowel control issues too.
  • Tetraplegia – Damage to the spinal cord results in paralysis of all limbs. A victim cannot move below the site of the injury and may have respiratory, bladder, and bowel limitations.
  • Paraplegia – Sensation and movement from the lower extremities are completely stopped, and the injuries occur because of damage to the thoracic spinal cord.
  • Triplegia – Triplegia leads to a loss of sensation and movement in one arm or both legs. Typically, it comes from incomplete spinal cord injuries.

Receiving Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries result in permanent, lifelong injuries. The cost to treat these injuries is extensive and requires specialized microsurgeries that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even after surgical treatments, you may require constant medical care and equipment just to live comfortably.

If your spinal cord injury was the result of someone’s negligence whether, in an accident or malpractice, you might have a case for compensation. Speak with an injury attorney from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP by calling one of our three office locations or requesting your evaluation online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.