A person who suffers a spinal cord injury has an uncertain future, but understanding more about their injury can help them to set goals and realistic expectations. It will also help the person and their family members understand their care needs.
There are three primary factors that determine healing possibilities for a spinal cord trauma. These include the location, severity and type of injury. Typically, higher, more severe, and complete injuries are more difficult to recover from than lower, less severe, and incomplete injuries.
What is a complete injury?
A complete injury damages the spinal cord in a way that renders the victim without function or feeling below the area where the injury occurred. A full recovery from a complete spinal cord injury almost never occurs, and the person may require personal care. Adaptive technologies may enable the person to do many things.
What is an incomplete injury?
An incomplete injury damages the spinal cord, but the person will retain some sensation or function. Sensation and the ability to move might be limited but it provides some measure of hope that the person will be able to make at least a partial recovery. Through surgery and physical therapy they may recover additional function and feeling.
Why does the level of the injury matter?
The impacts of the injury are generally felt below the area of the spinal cord that’s damaged. Neck injuries (cervical damage) can affect the ability to move the arms and legs, as well as a person’s ability to breathe. While an injury in the lower back might affect the legs, it won’t impact the arms or the ability to breathe.
How do levels the of injury impact the treatment plan?
Doctors have to take the level, type and severity of the injury into account when developing a treatment plan. Often, victims of spinal cord injuries will require a lengthy hospital stay and physical therapy. Some might need to have personal care assistance and intensive medical interventions at home. A spinal cord injury can be very costly, especially if the person requires round-the-clock care, breathing assistance or special modifications to their home and vehicle.
Victims of spinal cord injuries who were in an accident caused by another person’s negligence may pursue a claim for compensation. A successful claim can lessen the financial impact, and it seeks to hold the negligent party liable for the impacts of the incident. As with any personal injury, there a limited time to file a claim, so swift action is critical to preserve their legal rights.