Receiving a prognosis after spinal cord injury can be scary, as this will detail the outcome of this serious injury and determine the course of your life in the days, weeks, months and years to come. In many cases, doctors are able to make an accurate prognosis of spinal cord injury following diagnosis and evaluation in the acute stages.
Doctors often classify spinal cord injuries as being complete or incomplete.
Incomplete spinal cord injury means that the spinal cord's ability to convey messages to and from the brain is not completely lost. In these cases, people with spinal cord injuries often retain some motor and/or sensory function below the injury site.
Complete spinal cord injury means that the spinal cord is unable to convey messages to and from the brain anywhere below the injury site. This often means a patient has complete paralysis of all systems below the site of the spinal cord injury.
Furthermore, a medical team will determine the prognosis based on the site of the spinal cord injury. The following chart shows what areas of the body are affected based on the site of the injury:
|Spinal Region||Location||Area Effected||Spinal Levels|
|Cervical||Neck||Neck, arms, hands||C1 thru C7|
|Thoracic||Chest||Torso, parts of the arms||T1 thru T12|
|Lumbar||Low Back||Hips, legs||T12 thru L5|
|Sacral||Pelvis||Groin, toes, parts of the leg||S1 thru S5|
People who survive a spinal cord injury often have to endure related medical complications, which are often chronic and even permanent. These include:
- Chronic pain
- Bladder and/or bowel dysfunction
- Increased risk of respiratory and heart problems
- Partial or complete loss of feeling and function
A successful recovery and stabilization often depends on how well these chronic complications are handled.
Furthermore, if recovery is to occur following spinal cord injury, it often begins between a week and six months following an injury. After this point, many people do not see much improvement, however, some experience small improvements for up to a year or more after the initial injury.
The physical and emotional consequences of a spinal cord injury can be devastating. Loss of function and feeling that results from serious SCI can significantly alter a patient and their loved ones' lives forever. While nothing can right such an overwhelming situation, there is help for you and your family. If your injury was the result of another party's negligence or actions, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses and suffering, including your medical expenses, loss of income, emotional suffering, and more.