What Is the Difference Between Complete Spinal Cord Injury and Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury?

Complete spinal cord injury leads to loss of motion and sensation below the damaged location, difficulty controlling bladder and bowel movement, while incomplete spinal cord injury means there are some sensations and muscular movement below the place of the injury, as well as chronic pain.

There are two types of spinal cord injury: complete and incomplete. In a complete spinal cord injury, the transmission of signals across a spinal cord lesion does not exist at all, with any control perception of sensations or movement below the level of the lesion. In the days immediately following your spinal cord injury, the symptoms of a complete or an incomplete spinal cord injury are virtually indistinguishable. The hallmarks of a complete spinal injury include:

  • Complete loss of motion below the site of the injury
  • Difficulty controlling your bladder and bowels
  • In some cases difficulty breathing on your own
  • Loss of sensation below the site of the injury

An incomplete spinal cord injury allows the existence of a few functional (undamaged) pathways across the spinal cord lesion. The result can vary and depends on the parts of the spinal cord that were damaged. The hallmarks of an incomplete spinal injury include:

  • Retaining some sensation below the site of the injury (feelings may come and go, and may be much weaker than the sensations you used to experience)
  • Being able to move some muscles below the site of the injury (you may have good control over some muscles, but no control over others)
  • Pain below the injury
  • Chronic pain

Incomplete spinal cord injuries allow the spinal cord to retain some function. Thus, incomplete injury survivors often make faster progress in recovery.

If you suffered injury to your spinal cord due to someone else's negligence, call us at our Miami based office at 305.416.9805 and together we can determine if you have a case.

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