Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury is any injury to the spinal cord.  Spinal cord injuries are classified in two ways: complete versus incomplete; and tetraplegia versus paraplegia.  Complete spinal injuries refer to an almost total loss of feeling and ability to control movement below the area of the spinal cord injury.  Incomplete spinal injuries refer to when you have some motor or sensory function below the injured area.  Tetraplegia, which is sometimes referred to as quadriplegia, means that your arms, hands, trunks, legs, and pelvic organs are impacted.  Paraplegia means that all or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are impacted but that arms and hands are not impacted.

Signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury may be immediate or may develop over time.  If any of these signs or symptoms occur immediately after an injury, there is a possibility of a spinal cord injury and you should avoid moving a person unless it is absolutely necessary:
-Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back;
-An oddly positioned neck or back;
-Impaired breathing;
-Weakness, paralysis, or loss of sensation in any part of the body;
-Loss of bowel or bladder control; and
-Difficulty with balance.

Not all spinal cord injuries are immediately noticeable, and some may even be masked by other injuries. Long-term signs and symptoms include:
-Loss of feeling including the ability to feel touch, heat, and cold;
-Loss of movement;
-Loss of bowel control;
-Loss of bladder control:
-Loss of reflexes or exaggerated reflex response;
-Spasms;
-Change in sexual function or sensitivity;
-Changes in fertility such as infertility;
-Pain in the impacted areas, often described as intense stinging; and
-Difficulty with breathing and coughing.

Spinal cord injuries are serious injuries that generally have a long-term impact.  If you have experienced a spinal injury, you may be looking at significant expenses and life changes.  An attorney can help you determine whether you can recover for your injuries as well as help you determine the appropriate amount of any recovery you should receive.

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