Types of Spinal Cord Injury

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Understanding the spine

Spinal cord injuries can occur for a variety of reasons including falls from height, sporting injuries, road traffic accidents, and work accidents.

The level of recovery a patient will be able to achieve after a spinal injury will depend on where the damage has occurred on the spine and whether the injury is complete or incomplete.

The Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is a thick bundle of nerves extending from the brain which travels through the vertebrae, carrying electrical messages to all parts of the body. If the spinal cord is damaged loss of movement and sensation can occur.

The parts of the body affected by a spinal cord injury will depend on the location of the injury

Representation of spine with the vertebra numbered

The spine

The spine consists of 33 vertebrae (bones) which surround and protect the spinal cord, and provide support for the upper body. The spine is held together with ligaments which stabilise the backbone and tendons which connect to spinal muscles.

Injury to the spinal cord may result in varying levels of loss of function. More severe injuries may result in tetraplegia or paraplegia.


Complete Spinal Cord Injury Complete spinal cord injury means that all motor and sensory function is lost below the point of injury. The spinal cord has been severed or suffered catastrophic damage. Levels of Spinal Cord Injury Incomplete Spinal Cord InjuryAn incomplete spinal cord injury means that partial motor and sensory function remains below the point of injury. The spinal cord has been damaged, but some neurological messages are able to pass through the damaged area. Tetraplegia – Partial or complete loss of motor and sensory function in all four limbs and torso.Paraplegia – Partial or complete loss of motor and sensory function in lower limbs and torso. Arms are not affected. Key Impaired Motor Function Normal Function Impaired Sensory Function Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries C1-C7 Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries T1-T12 Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries L1-L5 Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries S1-S5 The five nerve areas of the sacral spinal cord affect the hips and groin, the backs of the thighs, the medial buttock area, and the perineal area. The bowel, bladder and sex organs are also controlled by these nerves. Typically the hips and legs are affected following a lumbar spinal cord injury. There may be little or no control over bowel or bladder. The patient's ability to walk and the use of their lower limbs will depend on the exact location and severity of the injury to the lumbar spinal cord. The upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles are affected; breathing may be hindered. In T1-T5 injuries, the arms and hands are usually unaffected. T6-T12 injuries may mean there is little or no control over bowel or bladder function. Amongst the most severe of all spinal cord injuries – C1 to C4 injuries can cause total paralysis and may affect the patient's ability to breathe and speak unaided.

Spinal Injury Compensation claims with Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland

Your recovery from a spinal cord injury will be affected by many factors such as the severity of the injury, location of the injury and level of paralysis, alongside factors such as your age and pre-accident health.

While a compensation claim can never turn back the clock and restore your pre-accident health, a damages award primarily aims to provide financial support for you and your family as you negotiate recovery.

In practical terms this means that we will seek interim damages for you so that you can gain access to the most appropriate treatment and rehabilitation therapies as soon as possible. Such sums will also seek to provide financial security for your family so that you don't have to worry about bills being paid.

In the long-term, a spinal cord injury compensation claim will seek to ensure that you do not lose out financially as a result of the accident, this could mean that compensation will cover the costs of mobility aids such as wheelchairs, adaptations to your home and car, and where necessary the costs of ongoing care as well as covering pain and suffering and loss of income.

Talk to Thompsons today. Our highly experienced spinal injury claim solicitors are here to help you make a claim.

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