Major spinal cord injuries can leave individuals paralyzed or completely unable to move below the site of the injury to their neck or back. These injuries, known as complete spinal cord injuries, result from some kind of trauma severing the spinal cord. However, not all spinal cord injuries are complete injuries.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries also occur, and while they may not sever the spinal cord, they can have a lifelong impact. In an incomplete injury, the spinal cord winds up pinched, cut, nicked or torn without getting completely severed.
Any damage to the spinal cord can cause pain or nerve issues
The spinal cord is the conduit that allows your brain to communicate with the rest of your body. It sends information about physical sensations from your skin to your brain and orders movement from your brain to the rest of your body.
Even if the spinal cord injury is incomplete, it can still impact the ability of your extremities to do what you need them to do. Incomplete injuries can produce all kinds of unusual symptoms, including increased/exaggerated reflexes, painful sensations in the affected area, as well as skin sensitivity, issues with circulation and a change in muscle tone.
While many people associate spinal injuries with a lack of sensation, a spinal cord injury could cause pain in the affected area. It could also cause weakness, decreased range of motion and difficulty with movement. For some people, these symptoms will improve with treatment and therapy. For others, the symptoms may persist indefinitely.
Incomplete spinal injuries can keep you from doing your job
While you may not need a wheelchair to acclimate to an incomplete spinal cord injury, you may need crutches or other assistive technology to stay mobile and offset the deficits and strain you experience because of the damage to your spinal cord. The more physically demanding your job, the more likely it is that a spinal cord injury will impact your ability to complete it.
Depending on the location and severity of the incomplete spinal cord injury, you could have symptoms that keep you from being able to stand or work with your hands. Your symptoms could also make simple tasks, like walking, more physically difficult and exhausting. People with spinal cord injuries may need accommodations to continue to work. In some cases, they may need to completely change their job.
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries as a result of a crash caused by another driver can likely take civil action to recoup their financial losses related to the injury. You could seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and even the cost of household work you can no longer perform for yourself, depending on the circumstances of your injury.