What is the Difference Between Incomplete vs. Complete Spinal Cord Injuries?

A spinal cord injury is one of the most severe and life-changing injuries that any person can ever sustain. A small amount of damage to the spinal cord can be completely debilitating. According to data from The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, nearly 18,000 new spinal cord injuries are reported in the United States each year. As these injuries cause long-term or permanent impairments, there are approximately 300,000 people nationwide who are living with the effects of spinal cord damage. 

Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two broad categories: Incomplete spinal cord injuries and Complete spinal cord injuries. At Ladah Law Firm, we are skilled advocates for victims. With extensive experience handling catastrophic injury claims, our team wants to make sure that all resources they need to get justice. Here, our Las Vegas injury attorney provides a comprehensive overview of the difference between incomplete and complete spinal cord injuries. 

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Background: The Precise Point of a Spinal Cord Injury Matters 

A spinal cord injury occurs when a person sustains some level of damage to the tightly bundled cells that relay messages from the brain to the rest of the human body. The precise point of a spinal cord injury always matters. As explained by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), with a spinal cord injury the “loss of nerve function occurs below the level of injury.”

In other words, the impact of a spinal cord injury is generally felt below the point where the damage occurred. A spinal cord injury in the lower part of the spinal column could impact a person’s lower body. A spinal cord injury in the upper part of the spinal column is likely to impact most of the body. The higher the spinal cord injury, the more of the body that is likely to endure the effects. 

The Key Difference Between an Incomplete and a Complete Spinal Cord Injury

As noted previously, spinal cord damage can be divided into two broad categories: incomplete and complete. They are both very serious injuries that can cause permanent physical and/or mental impairments. Here is the primary difference between these two types of spinal cord damage: 

  • An Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury: An incomplete spinal cord injury is one in which the brain’s ability to send messages below the point of the injury is not fully lost. Remember, the precise point of spinal cord damage is critically important. With an incomplete spinal cord injury, some ability to communicate between the brain and the part of the body below the point of impact remains. How much remains depends entirely on the specific spinal cord injury. Some incomplete spinal cord injuries are very close to “complete” injuries. Very little connection between the brain and the lower part of the body remains. Other incomplete spinal cord injuries are less disruptive. 
  • A Complete Spinal Cord Injury: A complete spinal cord injury is one in which the brain loses all ability to communicate with the part of the body below the spinal cord damage. This may or may not mean that the spinal cord was severed. It is possible to have a complete spinal cord injury without the severing of the spinal cord. The spinal cord could be fully compressed instead of severed. In general, a complete spinal cord injury will result in paralysis below the point of impact.  

While incomplete and complete are two broad categories of spinal cord damage, the reality is also that every spinal cord injury is unique. Any person who sustains spinal cord damage needs attentive care from qualified medical specialists. How exactly a spinal cord injury will manifest itself depends on a wide range of different factors. Whether a spinal cord injury is incomplete or complete is just one of the relevant factors that will determine long-term and permanent effects of the injury. 

All Spinal Cord Injuries are Serious Medical Emergencies

A “minor spinal cord injury” is a contradiction in terms. All spinal cord injuries are serious medical emergencies. Immediate attention is required. Incomplete spinal cord damage—though generally less severe than a complete spinal cord damage—is still a catastrophic injury and a medical emergency. If you suspect a spinal cord injury, it is imperative that you or your loved one receives immediate medical attention in an emergency room and the proper follow-up care. 

Catastrophic Injury Claims are Complex: Victims Need Full Financial Support

In Nevada, you can hold the at-fault party liable for economic and non-economic damages related to your accident. For example, imagine that a person suffered spinal cord damage in a distracted driving accident in Clark County. The distracted driver—and their insurer—can be held legally responsible. Spinal cord injury claims are especially challenging because the victim and their family frequently has both long-term medical needs and major intangible damages. It is essential that any spinal cord injury settlement or spinal cord injury verdict includes compensation for the full extent of your damages. The Ladah Law Firm fights tirelessly to get our clients every penny that they are owed. Compensation may be granted for: 

  • Property damage;
  • Ambulance costs;
  • Emergency room care;
  • Hospital bills;
  • Ongoing medical expenses;
  • Rehabilitative care;
  • Physical therapy; 
  • Medications and medical equipment; 
  • Mental health counseling; 
  • Loss wages;
  • Loss of future earning power; 
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish; 
  • Permanent disfigurement; and
  • Loss of life enjoyment. 

Unfortunately, the big insurance carriers that handle most catastrophic injury claims—including incomplete and complete spinal cord damage claims—are focused largely on protecting their own best interests. Victims and families need professional legal counsel from an attorney who has relevant experience in spinal cord damage cases. 

How the Las Vegas Catastrophic Injury Attorneys at Ladah Law Firm Can Help

Spinal cord injury claims are complicated. Proving liability and damages is never easy in these cases. No matter how the accident occurred—car crash, slip and fall, etc—professional support is a must. At Ladah Law Firm, we have what it takes to represent victims and families in catastrophic injury cases. Among other things, our Las Vegas spinal cord injury lawyer is prepared to: 

  • Hear your story and answer questions about the spinal cord injury claims process;
  • Carefully investigate the accident, gathering the evidence to establish legal fault; 
  • Connect with the right medical experts to ensure you get the proper ongoing care; 
  • Comprehensively document your economic and intangible damages to maximize your financial compensation; 
  • Advocate for you in any settlement talks with the defendant or insurance provider; and
  • Devise a personalized legal strategy to get you and your family justice and the best results. 

You may be wondering if you can afford the ser

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vices of a top-rated Las Vegas catastrophic injury lawyer. No matter your financial circumstances, the answer is always yes. The Ladah Law Firm handles all spinal cord injuries on a contingency fee basis. There are never upfront costs or out-of-pocket fees. We only get paid when you recover compensation for your spinal cord damage. 

Get Help From a Top Spinal Cord Injury Attorney in Las Vegas Today

At Ladah Law Firm, our Las Vegas catastrophic injury lawyer is an aggressive, reliable advocate for victims and families. If you or your loved one sustained an incomplete or complete spinal cord injury, you need professional representation. Reach out to us by phone at (702) 252-0055 or contact us online to set up a free, confidential initial consultation. From our Las Vegas law office, we handle spinal cord injury claims and other catastrophic injury claims throughout Southern Nevada.