What is the Difference Between a Complete or Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating and lead to significant short or long-term disabilities. There are various ways to classify spinal cord injuries, beginning with determining whether or not the injury is considered “complete” or “incomplete.” Examining the differences between a complete and incomplete spinal cord injury is important, particularly when it comes to examining the overall costs injury victims can expect in these situations.

Spinal Cord Injuries – No Two Are Alike

It is important not to generalize spinal cord injuries as a single “thing” that can occur to an individual. The types and severities of spinal cord injuries are immense. Even if two individuals sustain very similar injuries to similar areas of the spine, they could experience completely different symptoms. However, at their most basic, we can categorize spinal cord injuries into being “complete” or “incomplete.”

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries in Oregon

A complete spinal cord injury occurs anytime the spine is completely severed or compressed at the point of injury. When this type of injury occurs, this means that the brain will no longer be able to send any signals to the body below where the spinal cord has been severed or compressed. Individuals who experience a complete spinal cord injury will almost always be paralyzed from the injury site downward. This could result in quadriplegia or paraplegia, depending on the region of the spine where the injury occurs.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries in Oregon

An incomplete spinal cord injury refers to various types of trauma that can occur to the spinal cord that cause harm but does not result in a complete severing or compression of the injury area. Typically, individuals who sustain an incomplete spinal cord injury will retain some level of functionality or sensation below the side of the injury. The overall severity of an incomplete spinal cord injury will depend on many factors. Some incomplete spinal cord injury victims will experience paralysis below the site of the injury, while others may only experience mild weakness.

What Does a Spinal Cord Injury Cost?

One major difference between an incomplete or complete spinal cord injury is the overall cost to the injury victim. To be sure, any type of spinal cord injury is costly. When examining the information available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see that the first year of medical care for spinal cord injury ranges anywhere from around $380,000 to more than $1.1 million. Each additional year of medical care for a spinal cord injury victim can range anywhere from around $50,000 to more than $200,000 for the remainder of a person’s life.

The discrepancy between these ranges has to do with the severity of the injuries. An incomplete spinal cord injury will likely fall on the lower end of the dollar spectrum for medical care, while a complete spinal cord injury can result in complete paralysis and likely reach towards the upper end of medical costs.

However, these are not the only expenses that spinal cord injury victims and their families have to deal with. Those who sustain severe spinal cord injuries will likely not be able to work, at least not in the same way that they could before the injury. This could lead to a loss of income. Spinal cord injury victims may also have to pay to modify their vehicles or their homes, and they may even need extensive rehabilitation or in-home care.

Contact our Portland spinal cord injury attorneys today.