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Atlanta Employment Law Attorney / Blog / Catastrophic Injury / Complete v. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries in Accidents

Complete v. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries in Accidents


The spinal cord acts as a communications network, transmitting messages from the brain to the systems, organs, muscles, and other tissues that comprise the human body. When trauma from an accident causes a spinal cord injury (SCI), the consequences can be severe. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), accidents are the most common reason behind SCI. There are currently around 294,000 people currently living in the US with spinal cord trauma, and another 17,810 cases are added every year.

Not all SCIs are the same, and one of the critical factors that distinguishes them is complete versus incomplete. Depending on the severity, many spinal cord injuries are classified as catastrophic because of the extensive, devastating implications for the victim. Many lose their independence and must rely on others for care, and NSCISC reports that life expectancy is significantly diminished. The losses are massive, so it is critical to retain an Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyer if you or a loved one was hurt. Some background on complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries is also useful.

Effect of Incomplete SCI: The spinal cord runs down the center of the vertebrae, and these bones protect it from most trauma. However, with the violent blow of an accident, the spinal cord may be stretched or dislocated. When it suffers this type of damage, messages from the brain can still make it through to the body. The SCI would be considered incomplete.

Still, another factor to consider with SCIs is the location of the trauma on the spine. The vertebrae are separated into sections from the neck to the lower back, and each has their own purpose and function. Generally, the higher the location of the injury, the greater the damage.

Complications for Complete Spinal Cord Injury: This is a far more serious SCI, since complete injuries usually mean the spinal cord has been entirely severed. The nerve tissues are delicate, so they cannot simply be stitched back together. No messages from the brain can make it to their destination, so any bodily function below the location of the injury is affected. A complete SCI to the lower back may result in paraplegia and the inability to walk. The same injury to the cervical spine, at the base of the skull, is usually fatal.

 How Spinal Cord Injuries Happen: There are many different types of accidents that lead to SCI, including:

  • Car collisions;
  • Semi, 18-wheeler, and other large truck accidents;
  • Motorcycle crashes;
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents;
  • Slip and falls, tripping, and other incidents that result from dangerous conditions on property;
  • Medical malpractice, including misdiagnosis and surgical errors;
  • Construction site and workplace accidents; and,
  • Accidents related to sports and athletics, which particularly affect children.

Discuss Your Rights with a Georgia Catastrophic Injury Attorney

For more information about your rights after suffering complete or incomplete SCI, please contact The Forsythe Law Firm, LLC in Atlanta, GA. You can set up a free consultation with an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer by calling us at 404-476-2717 or visiting our website.



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