A spinal cord injury is among the most serious types of injuries that can result from a Wisconsin car accident. However, not all spinal cord injuries are the same. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash, then it is important to know about the different types of spinal cord injuries that you might suffer and what to do next to protect your recovery and your future.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
If you have some sensory or motor function below the point on your body where your spinal cord was injured then you have an incomplete spinal cord injury. Some types of incomplete spinal cord injuries that may occur in a car accident include:
- Anterior cord syndrome: Anterior spinal cord syndrome occurs when there is an injury that interrupts the blood flow in the front part of the spinal cord. It is considered an incomplete injury because although patients typically lose motor control below the point of injury, they may maintain some sensory function. It is most common for patients to retain some sensitivity to touch and joint position, rather than other sensory functions such as pain recognition.
- Central cord syndrome: Injury to the middle portion of the spinal cord can occur when the neck is hyperextended during the impact of a Wisconsin car crash. Often, this type of injury results in more difficulties with a person’s arms and hands than his legs and feet. Expensive and time-consuming medical treatment is often necessary, but may not result in a full recovery.
- Posterior cord syndrome: This is a relatively rare type of incomplete spinal cord injury that occurs when only the back part of the spinal cord is injured. Typically, there is little or no impact on muscle power; however, coordination and sensory input may be impacted by this type of injury.
- Brown-Sequard syndrome: Brown-Sequard syndrome (BSS) occurs when there is damage to just one side of the spinal cord. The result of this type of injury—which can occur because of the trauma experienced in a Wisconsin car crash—is the loss of motor function on the side where the injury occurred. The other side of the body may experience loss of sensation. Rehabilitation therapies and medical treatment are often necessary to help a person with this condition live with the injury.
- Cauda equina lesion: This type of spinal cord injury puts pressure on a collection of nerve roots located between the first and second lumbar region at the base of the spine. The pressure on these nerve roots, known as the cauda equina, can result in partial or complete loss of sensation in the legs, feet, and pelvis. In some cases, particularly when surgery occurs quickly, function can be improved or recovered.
Any of these incomplete spinal cord injuries is serious and potentially life-changing, but they are not the only kind of spinal cord injuries that can occur after a car crash.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
People who suffer complete spinal cord injuries in a car crash lose all, or almost all, of their sensory and motor function below the point of injury. Complete spinal cord injuries include:
- Complete paraplegia: This type of injury occurs at the T1 level of the spinal cord and results in paralysis of the legs, feet, bladder, bowel, and sexual organs. Use of arms and hands is typically not impacted by this injury. Immediate medical attention and ongoing rehabilitation therapies are important for car accident victims who suffer this type of injury.
- Complete tetraplegia: As with complete paraplegia, the impact of complete tetraplegia is currently permanent. Complete tetraplegia occurs when the injury happens higher up on the spinal cord. Victims of this type of injury suffer all of the symptoms of paraplegia plus paralysis of the hands or arms. Depending on where the injury occurred, respiratory problems and paralysis of the shoulders or neck may also occur. Difficulty eating, speaking, and breathing are possible.
While great strides are currently being made in spinal cord injury research, there is currently no way to reverse complete spinal cord damage.
Why a Legal Recovery Is Important After a Spinal Cord Injury
While money won’t result in your full physical recovery, it may make your life considerably easier. Specifically, you may be able to recover damages for past, current, and future:
- Surgeries and hospitalizations.
- Doctors’ appointments.
- Rehabilitation therapies, such as occupational therapy and physical therapy.
- Nursing help or help that you need around the house if you are unable to do things yourself because of your injury.
- Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and computers adapted to your needs.
- Lost income if you are unable to work at all, or compensation for your reduction in income if you can’t work the same job or as many hours.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering.
Together, this type of compensation may help you stay in your home, afford the medical care you need, and make the most of your future. The specific amount that you might be able to recover depends on the unique injury that you suffered and exactly what happened in your accident. Accordingly, it is important to consider your legal options and to understand the damages that are possible after an auto accident.