Comparing Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries


Spinal cord injuries are among the most severe forms of trauma you can suffer in an accident of any kind, leading to excruciating pain, disability, and long-term medical implications. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center(NSCISC) reports that the top causes include auto crashes, slip and falls, and sports injuries, so the risks affect all Alaskans regardless of age. If you were hurt, your health care providers may refer to your spinal cord injuries as being either complete or incomplete. The distinction is crucial for your treatment and recovery, as well as understanding how the trauma will impact your future.

However, the difference between complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries can also have a considerable impact upon your legal rights. Compensation for victims is based upon losses, which may be extreme considering the implications of back trauma. It is important to trust an Anchorage serious and catastrophic injury attorney for help with your remedies, but some information on the severity of spinal cord injuries is also useful.


Complete Versus Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

From the term itself you can probably guess that a complete injury occurs when the spinal cord is completely severed, which is certainly possible considering the violent impact of an accident. When this essential link is disconnected, messages from the brain cannot be transmitted to the rest of the body below the affected area. Paraplegia and quadriplegia are common, and victims of complete spinal cord injuries may lose control over bladder, bowels, and related functions.

Around 65% of spinal cord injuries from accidents are incomplete, so some function may remain. The spinal cord may not be severed, so messages from the brain may still get through to the body and extremities. However, there remain implications when the spinal cord and surrounding tissues are compressed or strained.


Factors That Impact Spinal Cord Injuries

In addition to the effects of complete versus incomplete trauma, another key consideration is location of the trauma. Generally, a victim will experience more intense implications when the injuries are higher up on the spine. As a result:

  • Trauma to the sacral and lumbar regions at the lower end of the spine may lead to issues in the hips and legs.
  • The middle of the back is the thoracic spine, where trauma affects organs in the lower torso. With a complete injury, the victim may not be able to walk.
  • The cervical spine supports the function of the head and neck, so complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries to this area lead to the most significant medical ramifications. A complete injury to this region typically leaves victims unable to breathe on their own.


Discuss Your Options with an Alaska Serious and Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

If you suffered a spinal cord injury of any kind, the impact on your life can be considerable. Legal representation is critical for getting the compensation you deserve, so please contact Power & Power Law in Anchorage, Alaska. You can call 907-222-9990 to set up a free consultation.