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The Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Any time you suffer trauma to your spinal cord, you need to be concerned about the long-term consequences. Your spinal cord houses your central nervous system—simple bruising or swelling can lead to loss of sensation or motor skills. Often, the full significance of your injury may not be apparent for weeks or months after your injury.

Spinal cord injuries are customarily identified as either complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries.

A complete spinal cord injury is characterized by loss of movement and sensation below the location of the injury. A severing of the spinal cord will cause this, but it can also be the result of bruising, pressure on the spinal cord (from swelling) or loss of blood to the spinal cord.

An incomplete spinal cord injury will not manifest in total loss of sensation or movement below the location of the injury. It will typically take one of five forms:

  • A spinal contusion— A bruise to the spine, usually the result of trauma, may cause inflammation and/or bleeding which customarily results in temporary (1-2 days) partial or total loss of movement or sensation.
  • Damage to motor skill and sensory pathways on the outer part of the spinal cord (known as the anterior cord)—Injury to the outer areas of the spinal cord may result in loss of some, but not all, sensory or motor activity.
  • Damage to the central cord—Injury to the core, or center, portion of the spinal cord usually affects motor skills and typically manifests in weakness, paralysis or loss of motion in arms or other extremities. Some people recover motor function fairly immediately, but others may take up to six weeks to regain motor skills.
  • Damage to individual nerve cells—Injury to specific nerve cells results in loss of the motor skills or sensory input associated with the specific nerve that has been damaged.
  • Brown-Sequard syndrome—This condition occurs when there is injury to the right or left side of the spinal cord. It leads to loss of movement and sensation on the side of the injury (below the site of the injury) and loss of temperature and pain sensation on the other side.

Contact Metzger & Kleiner

At Metzger & Kleiner, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 215-622-2210 in Philadelphia, 610-563-2186 in the Lehigh Valley, or toll free at 800-228-1760.

We take all spinal cord injury claims on a contingency basis. We will only bill you attorney fees if we recover compensation for your losses.

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