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Jason R. Schultz P.C

Q:
What is the difference between complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries?

A:

What is the difference between complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries?

There are two main categories of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete.

A complete spinal cord injury is a worst-case scenario. A person who suffers a complete spinal cord injury will have no physical capabilities and no sensation below the point of the injury. Before modern advances in medicine, complete spinal cord injuries had a high fatality rate.

A complete spinal cord injury can happen at any level of the spine and will equally affect both sides of the body.

What is an incomplete spinal cord injury?

With an incomplete injury, a person still has some function below the level of the injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury can happen at any level of the spine.

A patient with an incomplete spinal cord injury may:

  • Retain movement in one limb but not the other;
  • Experience movement in one limb more than the other;
  • Have more function on one side of the body than the other; or
  • Retain feeling in parts of the body.

Does it matter where the injury occurs on the spine?

The higher up the level of the injury is to the spinal cord, the more severe the impact for the patient. For example, if you suffered an injury in the lower part of your spine, or lumbar area, it may affect your muscle and nerve control to your legs, bladder, and bowels, but it will not affect your arms. If your injury occurred at the neck, or cervical, level, you may lose nerve and muscle control to your arms, legs, bladder, bowels, and respiratory muscles.

How can a spinal cord injury affect my life?

Depending on the location of your spinal cord injury and whether it is complete or incomplete, the daily impact to your life will vary. The victim of a high, complete spinal cord injury will be unable to move or feel sensation and will require lifelong assistance with bowel and bladder function, breathing, and feeding.

Lower, incomplete injuries may allow the victim some independence, but there will still be impacts to sensation, mobility, and self-care. Many spinal cord injury victims require a wheelchair to get from one place to another and will need help performing daily tasks for the rest of their lives.

What are my damages for my spinal cord injury?

You may be able to recover significant compensation after a catastrophic injury like spinal cord damage. Several factors will determine your damages, including:

  • The severity of your injury;
  • Whether it is a complete or an incomplete spinal cord injury;
  • The level of the spine at which the injury occurred; and
  • How much residual function and sensation you have after recuperation.

Your initial medical bills will be significant, as spinal cord injury patients often spend time in the intensive care unit, both for respiratory issues and to protect them from further injury to the spine. After the initial trauma care, you may spend months in the hospital or spinal cord injury rehabilitation center.

When you get home, your costs will continue to accumulate. These expenses can include the cost of:

  • Medical equipment and mobility devices;
  • Long-term physical and occupation therapy;
  • Frequent medical care;
  • In-home healthcare and daily assistive care;
  • Adaptive equipment and modifications to the home;
  • Special transportation vehicles;
  • Lift equipment and physical therapy equipment in the home; and
  • Adaptive clothing, feeding devices, bladder and bowel program supplies, and special self-care items.

How can I get help collecting damages for my injury?  

The lifetime costs following a spinal cord injury, whether complete or incomplete, can be astronomical. If you have suffered a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury, you need to talk with one of our experienced spinal cord injury lawyers. At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we will evaluate your case and fight to get you the compensation you need. Call us today to set up your free consultation at 404-474-0804.

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