Spinal cord injuries are among the most traumatic injuries, sometimes resulting in paralysis. The terminology associated with these injuries can be highly confusing and overwhelming, yet patients must understand it fully. The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale is the current standard classification of spinal cord injuries. Due to the traumatic and often lifelong effects of spine 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” spine injury means there is some level of communication between the brain and the spinal cord below the level of injury. However, this can be a wide range of levels of function. The spinal cord can still 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 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 over 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 of 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 functions are normal.
Effects of Cervical Spinal Injury C1- C8:
Injuries to the cervical spinal cord can cause quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia. Depending on the severity of the injury, a cervical injury could result in weakness in the arms and legs or complete paralysis of all regions below the level of injury. These types of injuries can often include loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder, sexual dysfunction, and respiratory issues.
Effects of Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury T1 – T12:
Injuries to the thoracic spine are much less common than other spine injuries. This is mainly because the rib cage protects the thoracic spine and is less susceptible to injuries. If a thoracic injury does occur, it sometimes causes paralysis or weakness of the legs. Most often, the arms and hands are unaffected by this type of injury. However, 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:
Depending on the severity, injuries to the lumbar region 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 in 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, bowels, and sexual organs. Depending on the severity of the injury, a sacral injury can result in the loss of these functions and 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.