Types of Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries typically occur when our spine is harmed due to dislocation or fracture. Such types of injuries are more likely to be more life-changing than other injuries. You see, the spine enables functioning such as walking and movement. Patients who experience from the loss of functionality need to adhere to a strange way of life to adapt to their new incapacities. Nonetheless, not every spine injury leads to severe damages or loss of movement. You will find some injuries that heal immediately.

In case you didn’t know yet, approximately 12,500 spinal cord injuries take place in the United States yearly. That leaves injured individuals, as well as their family and friend to cope with the repercussion of the disaster.

Therefore, an informed patient is better geared to support his or her interests and requirements. Understanding the anatomy of the spinal cord will help you better understand what your physician is talking about. It will also enable you to ask smart questions and spot medical issues before they risk your overall health.

In this post, allow us to inform you about the fundamentals you must understand the different types of spinal cord injury. Are you now ready? Let’s get started.

The Essentials: Spinal Cord Anatomy

Some people assume that the spinal cord is merely composed of a single piece. But it’s far from the truth. In fact, it is composed of a column of nerves, which is safeguarded by a sheath of myelin. It is also protected by thirty-one vertebrae that shaped like a butterfly.

Medical practitioners categorize the spinal cord into our regions. Understanding the region in which your spinal cord injury took place is the answer to knowing your treatment and diagnosis. Below are the four different regions of the spinal cord:

  1. The Coccygeal Region. Often called the tailbone, this region is composed of a single vertebra located at the base of our spinal cord.
  1. The Sacral Region. This region is located on the lower part of our spine. Shaped like a triangle, this is composed of five vertebrae. Here, the lumbar cord extends inward. However, the vertebrae of the sacral part stretch outward. You will not find a spinal cord in this area. That’s because it’s composed of nerve roots, exiting the spine at their corresponding vertebral levels.
  1. The Lumbar Spinal Cord. The lumbar spinal cord is where your cord starts to stretch. Take note that this is the lower part of your spinal cord. Try placing your hand in your lower back where your back stretches inward. Do you feel your lumbar region? You will find five lumbar vertebrae in this region, categorized from L1 to L5.
  1. The Thoracic Spinal Cord. This region creates the mid-section of your spinal cord. This is composed of 12 vertebrae from T1 to T12.
  1. The Cervical Spinal Cord. Located on the topmost part of your spinal cord, the cervical spinal cord is where your brain links to your spinal cord. This area also is where your neck links to your back. This area is composed of 8 vertebrae, and it is typically called C1 to C8. Here, every spinal cord numbers are in descending order. That makes C8 as the lowest while C1 is the highest in this region.

What are the Different Types of Injuries in the Spinal Cord?

Always bear in mind that every injury in the spinal cord is categorized into two categories: complete and incomplete.

  • Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries. Incomplete spinal cord injuries means some nerves can still communicate with the brain. The messages delivered from nerve endings to the brain enable for movement. Thus, when a patient has experienced this type of injury, they can still operate some regions of their body.
  • Complete Spinal Cord Injuries. This refers to the total loss of function. Complete spinal cord injuries mean that the nerve endings can’t communicate totally with the brain. This type of spinal cord injury denotes the patient will be bound in a wheelchair. In particular cases, this could denote the total loss of functionality without movement below the neck. Frequently, throughout the entire body.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries are staggeringly typical. Better treatment and raised knowledge about how to respond plays a vital role. In fact, these injuries now account for over sixty percent of spinal cord injuries. That simply denotes people are making huge progress towards improved results and improved treatment.

Below we categorize the most typical forms of incomplete spinal cord injuries:

  • Brown Sequard Syndrome. This type of incomplete spinal cord injury is the result of injury to one part of our spinal cord. The damage might be more pronounced on one area of the body. For example, the motion might not be feasible on the right part. However, it might be totally engaged on the left side. The levels to which patients of this injury are damaged massively differ from one patient to another.
  • Central Cord Syndrome. This type of injury occurs in the middle part of the spinal cord. It injures nerves carrying signals from our brain to our spinal cord. Paralysis of the arms, partial impairment and loss of fine motor abilities in the legs are typical.
  • Anterior Cord Syndrome. This injury took place to the front of our spinal cord. It injures sensory and motor pathways. We might retain a few sensations, but we might have a difficult time with movement.

Did you know that physicians allocate various labels to spinal cord injuries? These all depend on the nature of such injuries. Below are some of the most typical types of them:

  • Triplegia. This present loss of movement and sensation in both legs and one arm. Normally, it is a result of a partial spinal cord injury.
  • Paraplegia. This takes place when movement and sensation and eliminated from the lower half of our body. Such injuries are the result of harm to our thoracic spinal cord.
  • Tetraplegia. This is the product of injury to our cervical spinal cord. These are normally known as the most severe type, and it generates different levels of paralysis of every limb. This gets rid of your capability to move under the region of the damage. It might also generate problems with bowel control and bladder.

Take note that injuries under your lumbar spinal cord don’t normally generate signs of loss of sensation. Nonetheless, they could generate nerve pain. They might also lower function in some regions of your body.

For example, damages to your sacral spinal cord could obstruct with bladder and bowel function. It might also trigger sexual issues and can generate weakness in the legs or hips.

What are Different Signs of Spinal Cord Injury?

An injury in the spinal cord isn’t the type of thing you would want to have in your life. Are you one of those people who have suffered from this ailment? Then your life might be a huge risk. You cannot utilize signs to diagnose the type of spinal cord injury you are experiencing. What’s more, every prognosis of the patient is unique.

Some individuals do have unbelievable recovery in just several months. However, some patients require years of physical treatment, therapy, and still make small to no development.

Some of the typical symptoms of a spinal cord injury are the following:

  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Loss of fertility
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Changes in personality or mood
  • Headaches
  • Bedsores
  • Frequent infections
  • Problems with bladder
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Different level of paralysis

How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Diagnosed?

Physicians normally make the decision to evaluate patients for this type of injuries based on two different factors. First, the type of patient the person has sustained as well as the location. Second, includes the symptoms.

Any person who has experienced a blow, who has fallen in the floor or loss consciousness might have experienced a spinal cord injury. Your physician might decide to evaluate you for this injury if you are suffering from difficulty breathing and moving, tingling sensation, loss of movement, or when you experience headaches.

Below are the protocols physicians depend on when assessing a spinal cord injury:

  • Imaging Tests. Your physician might request a MIR Imaging or other types of radiological imaging. This helps them see your brain, spinal cord, and spinal column.
  • Clinical Assessment. Your physician might also create a comprehensive list of all the symptoms you are facing. He or she might also perform blood tests, follow movement in your eyes, or request you to move your limbs.

What are the Possible Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury?

Take note that the most vital aspect of the treatment of a spinal cord injury starts before you even get to your physician. Immediate emergency care, preventing moving the spinal column and remaining still could all raise your chance of survival. It will also lower the long-term impacts of your condition.

From there, your physician will concentrate on calming you. The first hours after the injury occurred are vital to the survival of the patient. Blood transfusions, a collar to keep the neck steady and support with breathing and other processes might be needed to manage your symptoms.

Not all spinal cord injury is the same. However, the treatment for this injury might consist of the following:

  • Individual and family counseling to aid you to cope up with the pain as well as the stress of life
  • Physical therapy to aid retrain your body and brain
  • Changes in your lifestyle like stop smoking and a healthy diet
  • Palliative care to help you be much comfortable
  • A ventilator to help you breathe properly and a feeding tube to help you eat if cannot do so
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