Types of Spinal Cord Injury
Seriously Injured in Hawaii?
The spinal cord is a group of nerve fibers and tissue extending down the
length of the spine. The spinal cord and the brain comprise the body’s
central nervous system. Impulses are sent to and from the brain to various
parts of the body through the nerve fibers within the spinal cord. When
an injury causes damage to the spinal cord, communication between the
brain and the rest of the body is hindered to a greater or lesser degree.
Individuals who sustain spinal cord injuries generally experience diminished
sensation in body parts below the point of impact, a lack of mobility,
and reduced functionality of internal body organs. An acute
spinal cord injury (SCI)
can cause bruising, a partial tear or a full tear of the spinal cord.
This type of injury often results in permanent disability or death.
Did you sustain a spinal cord injury caused by negligence? Take legal action
by calling (808) 518-2120 for a free consultation.
Two Primary Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two primary types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete.
When an individual sustains a complete SCI, he or she will have no sensation,
mobility or functionality below the point of injury. Complete spinal cord
injuries affect both sides of the body and can occur at any point on the
An incomplete injury is usually an indication of bruising or a tear on
the spinal cord. With this type of injury there will be some level of
functionality or sensation below the point of impact. One side of the
body could be affected more than the other. It depends on the extent of
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can result from a number of causes.
Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Sports injuries
- Industrial or work-related accidents
- Trampoline injuries
- Birth Injuries
- Disease (such as Polio or Spina Bifida)
- Assaults and other types of physical violence
Individuals whose bodies have been weakened due to a pre-existing physical
condition, such as arthritis, will be more susceptible to sustaining spinal
cord trauma in what would otherwise be considered as a minor accident
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Classified?
Spinal cord injuries are classified by the type and extent of motor and
sensory function loss. The spinal cord is protected by bones called vertebrae.
This makes it convenient to classify the spinal cord in segments by the
corresponding vertebrae and nerves.
Cervical injuries are those spinal cord injuries to either the C1 through
C7 cervical vertebrae or the C1 through C8 cervical nerves. Cervical injuries
can lead to quadriplegia or a complete loss of function or sensation in
a person’s chest, arms, and legs. The respiratory system as well
as bowel and bladder control can be impacted.
Thoracic injuries occur to the T1 through T12 vertebrae or T1 through T12
nerves found in the chest and rib cage. These types of injuries primarily
affect the chest or legs. Injuries sustained in the upper thoracic area
can impact breathing. Thoracic injuries may lead to paraplegia, or in
more severe cases, quadriplegia.
Lumbar injuries are those sustained to the L1 through L5 vertebrae or to
the L1 through L5 nerves. The lumbar area is located from the chest to
the pelvis. Injuries to this portion of the spinal cord can affect the
hips and legs, as well as bowel and bladder control. In more serious cases,
this type of injury can result in triplegia or paraplegia.
Sacral injuries are injuries that occur to the spinal cord located between
the pelvis and the end of the spine. As with lumbar injuries, injuries
to the S1 through S5 vertebrae or to the S1 through S5 nerves can have
an impact on a person’s hips, legs, bowel, and bladder control.
This type of injury can also cause temporary or permanent triplegia or
Symptoms and Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury
Not all spinal cord injury victims experience the same type of symptoms
or level of injury. The point of impact, severity of impact, pre-existing
conditions, and other factors all contribute to the symptoms that an individual
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, here are some
of the common symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of mobility in the chest, trunk, arms or legs
- Loss of sensation or feeling in the chest, trunk, arms or legs
- Stiffness or tightening of muscles
- Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
- Significant pain or stinging sensation
- Difficulty breathing
- Significant increase or decrease in heart rate or blood pressure
- Digestive problems
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Sexual dysfunction or sensitivity
Should you or your loved one experience extreme pain or pressure in your
back, neck or head, paralysis, loss of sensation in your extremities,
a complete loss of bowel or bladder control, difficulty maintaining balance
or walking, impaired breathing or if you notice any deformity in your
neck or back, seek emergency medical attention at once. Any individual
who sustains an injury to the neck, back or head should seek medical assistance
immediately. Delay in seeking treatment could lead to further complications.
Rehabilitating Spinal Cord Injuries
The problem with spinal cord injuries is that damage to the spinal cord
is irreversible. There are, however, a variety of treatments and medical
drugs that can help improve functionality of the remaining nerves and
promote nerve cell regeneration. After an individual has sustained a SCI,
it is important to begin a rehabilitation program as soon as possible.
The goal is to help the spinal cord injury survivor regain the highest
level of functionality and independence possible. As an individual becomes
more self-sufficient and regains mobility, a dramatic improvement in his
or her quality of life will often be seen.
Success at rehabilitating spinal cord injuries depends greatly on:
- The type and extent of a person’s injury
- The impairments he or she is currently experiencing and overall health
- His or her personal attitude and system of familial support.
What Issues Will Be Addressed in a SCI Rehabilitation Program?
The scope of a rehabilitation program after a spinal cord injury depends
on the extent of the injuries. People with quadriplegia will require long-term,
around the clock care. Many will also require a ventilator or some other
type of respiratory support, as well as a powered wheelchair to get around.
With extensive work, even those with a significant SCI may be able to
regain some level of independence and mobility.
Honolulu Personal Injury Lawyers Helping You Pursue Financial Compensation
If you or someone you love has experienced a spinal cord injury, our Honolulu
personal injury attorneys are here to provide you with the legal representation
and spinal cord injury support assistance you need. We understand the
long-lasting effects such injuries have on your finances and quality of
life. In cases where a SCI was sustained as a result of another person’s
negligence, carelessness or intentional wrongdoing, the victim may have
a legal right to pursue financial compensation for the injuries sustained.
To find out more about Leavitt Yamane & Soldner and the legal assistance
we can provide, call us now.