Home / Blog / What’s the Difference Between a Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)?

Spinal cord injuries can be a defining moment in victims’ lives that leaves them unable to function normally or enjoy the activities they used to. Damage to the spine can result in skyrocketing medical bills and may require medical devices and special equipment for completing daily tasks. Without recovering compensation, victims can experience severe financial strain.

Finding a knowledgeable and driven catastrophic injury attorney to pursue your claim can be vital for you and your family.

How Serious Are Spinal Cord Injuries?

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are among the most serious types of injuries that a person can suffer. The spinal cord is the primary component of the central nervous system. It carries signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

When the spinal cord is damaged, these signals are disrupted, leading to a loss of function. In some cases, the damage may be temporary, but in others, it can be permanent.

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include loss of sensation, paralysis, and respiratory difficulties. The severity of the symptoms depends on the extent of the damage.

In some cases, patients may be able to recover from their injuries with rehabilitation and physical therapy. However, for others, the consequences of a spinal cord injury can be life-long. National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month is celebrated every September to bring awareness to spinal cord injuries and help those affected.

How Do Complete and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries Differ?

Spinal cord injuries are categorized under two main types: complete and incomplete. A complete SCI is an injury that results in the total loss of function below the point of injury. An incomplete SCI is an injury that does not completely sever the spinal cord. As a result, some degree of function is preserved below the point of injury.

While both types of SCI can be devastating, an incomplete SCI often has a better prognosis as there may be more opportunities for recovery.

Types of Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries

There are different types of treatments for spinal cord injuries, and the best course of treatment depends on the individual case. Most patients generally require a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication.

Physical therapy can help improve muscle function and mobility, while occupational therapy can help patients learn new skills and adapt to their new physical limitations. In addition, medication may be necessary to control pain or other symptoms associated with the injury, like muscle spasticity or mental health issues.

In some cases, patients may also need surgery to stabilize the spine or repair damage to the spinal cord. However, with the right treatment plan, patients with spinal cord injuries can often improve their quality of life significantly.

What Compensation is Owed to Victims of Spinal Cord Injuries?

Medical bills for spinal cord injury treatment and rehabilitation are costly and can quickly escalate. Many victims cannot return to work, putting them at risk of falling into debt.

While it is impossible to undo the damage, victims of spinal cord injuries may be able to receive compensation for their losses. This may come from the responsible party, such as in the case of negligence. In other cases, it may come from government programs or private insurance.

When a spinal cord injury is due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages that can support you in your attempt to return to a normal life. Economic damages you can recover include:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Expenses for devices necessary for everyday functions
  • Caregiving costs

Non-economic damages are expenses not easily quantified in dollar terms. These include damages such as pain and suffering and disfigurement. You can also recover damages for loss of consortium to compensate for the negative impact of the injury on your relationship and emotional distress if the injury has caused mental health issues like depression or insomnia that affect your day-to-day life.

Importance of Hiring an Attorney for Your Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can have a profound and long-lasting impact on every aspect of your life. In addition to the physical suffering, you may also face an overwhelming financial burden due to medical expenses and lost income. Fortunately, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. However, navigating the legal system can be difficult, and insurance companies are often reluctant to pay fair settlements.

Hiring a skilled personal injury attorney who can fight for your rights is essential for maximizing your chances of securing adequate damages for a catastrophic and life-altering injury. An experienced attorney understands catastrophic injury law and can build a strong case on your behalf. They can also negotiate with insurance companies to help you get the financial award you deserve.

Victims of accidents or violence who suffer spinal cord injuries can contact the Indianapolis catastrophic injury attorneys at Wagner Reese to learn how much their case is worth. Our attorneys will pursue every necessary legal remedy on your behalf so you can focus on rehabilitation and getting your everyday life in order.

We accept cases from across the entire U.S. For a free no-obligation consultation, contact our law firm today.