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What are the Levels of Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating. These injuries often mean that individuals can no longer carry out the day-to-day activities that they are used to. However, no two spinal cord injuries are exactly alike. Not only are there multitudes of ways that a person can sustain a spinal cord injury, but there are also different levels of these injuries. Here, we want to discuss the spinal cord injury levels as well as how each of these levels can affect a person’s life.

Type of Spinal Cord Injuries That Occur

When we examine the information available from the Mayo Clinic, it is clear to see that there are varying levels of severity when it comes to spinal cord injuries. In general, we will discover that the cost of treating a spinal cord injury increase significantly with the severity of the injury. The Mayo Clinic defines spinal cord injuries as either “incomplete” or “complete.”

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Incomplete spinal cord injuries are the most common type of trauma that the spine will endure for most victims. These injuries can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Brown-Sequard syndrome. This type of spinal cord injury occurs when only one side of the spinal cord sustains damage.
  • Anterior cord syndrome. This type of spinal cord injury occurs when the front of the spinal cord is damaged and causes issues with the motor and sensory pathways.
  • Central cord syndrome. This type of spinal cord injury occurs when the spinal cord’s center is affected and can lead to significant nerve damage.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Complete spinal cord injuries are less common, but when they occur, the effects are much more severe for victims. There are three types of complete spinal cord injuries that can affect victims:

  • Tetraplegia. This is also called quadriplegia and is the most severe type of spinal cord injury. This can cause paralysis that affects every limb in the body as well as every other bodily function.
  • Paraplegia. This type of spinal cord injury involves an individual losing complete movement or sensation of the lower limbs.
  • Triplegia. This type of spinal cord injury is not discussed as much as quadriplegia or paraplegia. Triplegia can occur as a result of complications from an incomplete spinal cord injury.

How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?

When we turn to data available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see that around 18,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries each year in this country. The average age of spinal cord injury victims is 43, and 78% of spinal cord injuries occur in men. 

Spinal cord injuries have a variety of causes. Over a four year period beginning in 2015, we can see that the following are the most common causes of spinal cord trauma:

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Violence
  • Sports injuries
  • Medical or surgical mistakes

Regardless of how a spinal cord injury occurs, any individual injured due to the careless or negligent actions of others should be able to recover compensation for their losses. It is critical for spinal cord injury victims to work with a skilled spinal cord injury attorney who can help them determine liability for their injury and recover the compensation they are entitled to.