What are the Levels of Spinal Cord Injury?
Catastrophic Injury/Wrongful Death - November 8, 2021
Most people understand that spinal cord injuries can be devastating and result in significant short and long-term disabilities. However, many people do not realize that there are various levels of spinal cord injuries that individuals can endure. Here, we briefly want to define the levels of spinal cord trauma that can occur as a result of an accident.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are various levels of spinal cord injuries, particularly when looking at severity, according to the Mayo Clinic. What researchers found is that the costs of treating a spinal cord injury increase significantly with the severity of the initial injury. To begin with, the Mayo Clinic classifies spinal cord injuries as either “incomplete” or “complete.”
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Incomplete spinal cord injuries are the more common types of trauma that will occur to the spine in the event an accident occurs. These types of injuries are typically broken down into the following:
- Brown-Sequard syndrome. This type of injury to the spinal cord will occur when only one side of the spinal cord sustains damage.
- Anterior cord syndrome. This type of spinal cord trauma happens when the front of the spinal cord is damaged and causes issues to the sensory and motor pathways along the spinal column.
- Central cord syndrome. This type of spinal cord trauma happens when the center of the spinal cord is affected, which can lead to significant nerve damage.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
Complete spinal cord injuries are not as common as incomplete spinal cord trauma, but when this type of damage occurs, the effects will be much more severe for those involved. There are three main types of complete spinal cord injuries that we want to discuss:
- Tetraplegia. This is also referred to as quadriplegia and is considered the most severe type of spinal cord injury that can occur. Tetraplegia can cause complete paralysis that affects every limb of the body as well as other bodily functions.
- Paraplegia. This is a type of complete spinal cord injury that involves a person losing all movement in sensation in the lower limbs, and this can also affect other bodily functions, including bowel and bladder control.
- Triplegia. This type of spinal cord trauma is not discussed as often and can result from complications from an incomplete spinal cord injury that becomes a complete spinal cord injury over time.
The Costs Associated With a Spinal Cord Injury
If we examine data available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we see that approximately 17,900 individuals sustain spinal cord injuries every year across the United States. Spinal cord injuries have a variety of causes, but over the most recent four-year timeframe, the most common causes of spinal cord injuries include vehicle accidents, falls, violent acts, sports injuries, and medical mistakes.
The first year of medical costs associated with a spinal cord injury depends heavily on the severity of the initial injury. For example, a person who sustains a quadriplegic injury could face medical costs of more than $1.1 million, while a person who sustains paraplegia may experience first-year medical costs of around $200,000.
It’s important to consult with an expert Chicago spinal cord injury attorney if you’ve suffered any type of spinal cord injury.