Factors That Impact the Severity of Spinal Cord Injuries


The numbers on spinal cord injuries are disturbing, as the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that there are up to 373,000 people with varying degrees of disability currently living in the US; another 17,900 cases are added every year. However, there is another statistic about spinal cord injuries that is shocking: The average length of stay in a hospital acute care unit is 11 days for a victim, and rehabilitation length of stay is 30 days. These and related expenses are the reason a victim could incur over a million in health care costs the first year of the spinal cord injury, and more than $200,000 per year after.


Still, the full extent of the lifetime expenses for spinal cord injuries is directly related to the severity. There are multiple factors that affect back trauma and, in turn, will impact your compensation if you were hurt in an accident that was not your fault. Your Anchorage, AK spinal cord injuries lawyer can handle the legal details, but you should be aware of the basics.


Type of Injury

The first factor that impacts the severity of a spinal cord injury is the specifics regarding the trauma. The most common type of back injury is a sprain or strain, which affects the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the spine. More severe forms of trauma from accidents include:

  • Fractured vertebrae, which may require a vertebroplasty or other invasive surgery;
  • Herniated and bulging discs, the rubbery, gel-like pockets that cushion the vertebrae; and,
  • A severed spinal cord, which cuts off messaging from the brain to other parts of the human body.



In general, the site of the spinal cord injury dictates the implications for the victim. There are four main regions of the spine; from highest to lowest, they are the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Damage to the spinal cord affects the nerve fibers running through the respective region, impairing all corresponding muscles and nerves below. As a result, if you suffer an injury to the cervical spine, you may have no function below the neck.


“Completeness” of the Spinal Cord Injury

The term refers to whether the spinal cord is fully compressed or severed, since none of the brain’s messages will get through to other parts of the body when the damage is complete. Less than half of all spinal cord injuries are complete, but the implications are still serious for incomplete trauma. A victim will have some sensation and function below the site of the injury, but the nature of that person’s medical condition also depends upon the location and type of spinal cord injury.


Discuss Your Options With an Alaska Serious and Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

Lifetime costs related to spinal cord injuries can be significant, so it is reassuring to know that you may qualify to recover medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages. For more information, please contact Power & Power Law to set up a free case review at our offices in Anchorage.