Classification and Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 5:30 pm    

Spinal cord injuries are among the most traumatic of all injuries, sometimes resulting in paralysis. The terminology associated with spinal cord injuries can be extremely confusing and overwhelming yet it’s important for patients to understand fully. The current common classification of spinal cord injuries is the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale. Due to the traumatic and often lifelong effects of spinal cord injuries, if you’ve suffered an injury to your spine in the Dallas area, it is imperative to have the help of an experienced Dallas spinal cord injury attorney to help recover the appropriate amount of compensation.

What is the difference between complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries?

If a spinal cord injury is considered “complete”, this means there is a complete lack of sensory and motor function below the location of the injury. An “incomplete” spinal cord injury means there is some level of communication between the brain and the spinal cord below the level of injury, although this can be a wide range of levels of function. The spinal cord is still able to convey at least some messages to and from the brain with an incomplete injury and some sensory and motor function below the level of the injury is possible.

ASIA Impairment (AIS) Scale:

The Association Impairment Scale created by the American Spinal Cord Injury Association provides more specific degrees of spinal cord injuries.

A – Complete: No sensory or motor function is preserved in the sacral segments S4-S5.

B – Incomplete: Sensory but not motor function is preserved below the neurological level and includes the sacral segments S4-S5. No motor function is preserved more than three levels below the motor level on either side of the body.

C – Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below the neurological level, and more than half of key muscles below the neurological level have a muscle grade less than 3.

D – Incomplete: Motor function is preserved below the neurological level, and at least half of key muscles below the neurological level have a muscle grade of 3 or more.

E – Normal: Motor and sensory function are normal.

Effects of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury C1- C8:

Injuries to the cervical spinal cord can cause quadriplegia, also know as tetraplegia. Depending on the severity of the injury, a cervical spinal cord injury could result in weakness in the arms and legs or complete paralysis of all regions below the level of injury. Often these types of injuries can include loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction as well as respiratory issues.

Effects of Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury T1 – T12:

Injuries to the thoracic spine are much less common than other spinal cord injuries. This is mainly because the thoracic spine is protected by the rib cage and therefor is less susceptible to injuries. In the event that a thoracic spinal cord injury does occur, it sometimes causes paralysis or weakness of the legs. Most often with this type of injury, the arms and hands are not effected although bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction may occur as well as a loss of physical sensation below the level of the injury.

Effects of Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury L1 – L5:

Injuries to the lumbar spinal cord depending on the severity can result in paralysis or weakness in the legs. The effects may also include bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. The lumber area of the spinal cord also controls motor function and sensation to the lower abdomen, some parts of the genitals, buttocks and some parts of the leg.

Effects of Sacral Spinal Cord Injury S1 – S5:

The sacrum controls the function of the bladder and bowels as well as sexual organs. Depending on the severity of the injury, a sacral spinal cord injury can result in loss of these functions as well as paralysis or weakness of the hips and legs, feet and genital organs.

The shock and confusion associated with a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming. Dallas personal injury lawyer Jeff Benton can help. The Benton Law Firm offers dedicated and experienced legal representation for victims of traumatic injuries including spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and wrongful death.

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