A spinal cord injury is a life-changing event that can profoundly affect a person’s quality of life. These injuries can occur due to motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries or diseases, among other challenges. Several factors impact what types of long-term effects a victim will have to deal with after sustaining this type of injury.
The location of the damage, the type of damage and the available medical care are a few factors that can impact a victim’s situation. During the initial diagnosis and treatment of an injury you or a loved one may have sustained, you may be told whether you have a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury. This refers to the extent of damage to the spinal cord. A clear comprehension of these terms can help you to better understand possible treatment plans.
Complete spinal cord injuries
A complete spinal cord injury signifies total loss of function below the level of the damage. This means there’s a complete disruption of the neural pathways communicating with the brain. Patients with complete injuries experience loss of sensory and motor function below the injury site. This could result in paraplegia or quadriplegia, depending on the location of the damage.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries
An incomplete spinal cord injury involves some function remaining present below the level of the damage. The degree of function varies significantly from one person to another. Some individuals might have more function on one side of the body, while others may retain more sensory function than motor function. The retained function results from partially preserved neural pathways, which opens up a higher potential for recovery with rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation and recovery
Rehabilitation from spinal cord injuries is a complex and long-term process that requires a comprehensive approach. For complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation programs can help to maximize a patient’s functional independence and quality of life. For individuals with permanent effects, rehabilitation aims to help them learn how to use accommodations to cope with their differing abilities.
Going through the intensive rehab necessary after a spinal cord injury can be costly. Victims of crashes and other incidents caused by another’s actions or inactions can generally pursue a compensation claim, but this is time sensitive matter, so don’t waste any time getting one started.