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Incomplete vs. Complete Spine Injuries – What’s the Difference? New Orleans Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Explains

May 24th, 2016
On behalf of David Bowling of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in spinal cord injury on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

Car wrecks cause an astonishing number of spine injuries. According to Mayo Clinic, they are responsible for approximately 35 percent of all cases.


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All spine injuries are serious, but they range in severity. Some victims make full recoveries thanks to surgery and rehabilitation; however, others must endure lifelong paralysis. This can affect their relationships, careers, and quality of life.

If you sustained a spinal injury in a crash with a negligent driver, contact the The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm. David A. Bowling is a spinal cord injury attorney in New Orleans who can guide you through the claims process. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, which not only could cover your hospital costs but also modifications to your home and other expenses.

Call (504) 586-5200 to schedule a consultation. You can also visit to learn more about injury claims in Louisiana.

Here is a brief overview of the differences between incomplete and complete spinal cord injuries:

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Victims with incomplete injuries to the spine still suffer some degree of paralysis. They usually lose some movement and feeling below the site of the injury.

The full extent of an incomplete spine injury can take time to manifest. In some cases, it takes up to eight weeks for the shock on the spine to wear off.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries typically fall into one of six categories:

Spinal Contusions refer to bruising on the spine. There may be swelling and bleeding, which can put tremendous pressure on the spinal cord. Fortunately, the effects of contusions are usually temporary.

Cauda Equina Lesions are nerve injuries at the spine’s first and second lumbar regions. Victims suffer partial or complete paralysis.

Brown-Sequard Syndrome happens when trauma occurs on the spinal cord’s side. One side of the body will have compromised movement or no sensation.

Posterior Cord Syndrome occurs when the injury location is at the back of the spine.

Central Cord Syndrome is an injury in the spinal cord’s center. Patients cannot move their arms, but they may still be able to move their legs to some degree.

Anterior Cord Syndrome impairs the ability to feel touch, pain and temperature below the injury point. This happens if there is damage to the front of the spine.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Complete spinal cord injuries cause total paralysis. Victims lose both motor and nerve function below the injury site, but some may still manage short walks and stands with assistive equipment. Most, however, depend on a wheelchair. There are two forms of paraplegia:

Victims with an injury below the T1 vertebra cannot feel or move their bodies from the waist down. They are complete paraplegics.

Complete tetraplegics cannot move or feel sensation anywhere below the neck. If the injury occurs where the skull joins the spine, ventilators may be necessary to breathe.

If you or a loved one sustained a spinal injury due to a car accident or medical malpractice, contact the The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm. David A. Bowling is a New Orleans spinal cord injury lawyer who can assess your case to determine if you have grounds for a claim. Call (504) 586-5200 to schedule a consultation.

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