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Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Posted on 09/21/23

Any type of spinal cord injury has the potential to be devastating for a victim. However, there are various levels of spinal cord injuries you should be aware of, and each level could result in different types of complications. If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, our Buffalo personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation.

Complete Versus Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Individuals can sustain complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries:

  • Complete spinal cord injury. A complete spinal cord injury is one that results in the spinal cord being completely severed. This type of trauma will result in complete paralysis below the site of the injury, and it will affect both sides of the body.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury is one that does not completely sever the spinal cord, often leaving victims with some functioning below the site of the injury or on one side of the body. The brain can usually still communicate with the body along certain pathways through the spinal column.

Paraplegic Versus Quadriplegic

Quadriplegia and paraplegia are two other terms used to describe spinal cord injuries.

  • Quadriplegia is also referred to as tetraplegia, and this means that a person has sustained paralysis of all four limbs and their torso as a result of the spinal cord injury.
  • Tetraplegia means that a person has sustained paralysis of the lower limbs and torso but usually retains control of their upper limbs.

The overall severity of any spinal cord injury depends on a number of factors, including the specific location of the injury along the spinal column. Injuries that occur higher on the spinal column usually lead to more severe paralysis for the victim.

The Cost of Spinal Cord Injuries Based on Severity

Data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) indicates that spinal cord injuries, regardless of the level of severity, are costly for victims and their families. The cost does vary depending on the level of injury a person sustains.

For example, if a person experiences complete paralysis (quadriplegia), they will likely incur more than $1.1 million worth of medical costs during the first year of medical treatment. Each subsequent year will likely cost a quadriplegic nearly $200,000 annually.

If a person sustains a spinal cord injury that causes paraplegia, their first year of medical costs will likely rise above $560,000, with each subsequent year costing around $75,000.

These are just the medical costs associated with a spinal cord injury, but they do not paint a full picture of the overall financial burden victims and their families will likely incur. Other losses that will likely occur include:

  • The cost of modifying vehicles or homes to help with mobility
  • Lost wages if a victim is unable to work
  • Out-of-pocket household expenses that will arise

In addition to directly calculable monetary costs, spinal cord injuries will inevitably leave victims and their families with significant pain and suffering losses. This includes a loss of enjoyment of life, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and loss of consortium for a spouse or life partner.

If you or someone you care about has sustained a spinal cord injury caused by another person or entity, contact a Buffalo accident attorney today. A Buffalo spinal cord injury lawyer can help determine liability and will work diligently to secure compensation for your losses.