Spinal Cord Injuries and Their Effects on the Body

Spinal Cord Injuries and Their Effects on the BodyEvery injury sustained in an accident is a serious injury to that person. But a spinal cord injury (SCI) is often categorized as catastrophic, making it one of the most serious injuries there are. Many SCIs result in paraplegia, an inability to move the lower part of the body. Some result in quadriplegia, the inability to move any part of the body below the neck. With a spinal injury, even if a patient recovers some movement after therapy and rehabilitation, they likely still have medical issues they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.

If you or a loved one are dealing with a catastrophic injury like spinal cord trauma, you must understand the long-term effects, both medical and psychological, of the injury. These injuries can cause lifelong financial and physical issues, and they need to be taken into consideration if you’re thinking about filing a lawsuit. Here in North Dakota, if you suffer a spinal cord injury in an accident, you’re often eligible for a higher settlement due to the traumatic nature of your injury.

When talking to medical professionals about the spinal cord, there’s a lot to understand. We’ve put together a quick primer of some terms, with help from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC). Generally speaking, the lasting effects of spinal cord injuries depend upon the location on the spinal cord the injury occurred. The higher the injury, the worse the effects.

High Tetraplegia

An injury to the C1 to C4 vertebrae, located in the neck, typically impairs the ability to feel or move anything from the neck down. This is total body paralysis. Injuries such as these require assistance for breathing, as well as bladder and bowel function. People with total paralysis also need help with day-to-day activities. Annual lifetime financial expenses average $178,000 per year. These expenses don’t include loss of wages or productivity.

Low Tetraplegia

Injuries to the C5 to C7 vertebrae, located in the lower neck and at the top of the spinal column, may leave the patient with partial movement in the shoulders, elbows, or hands. They may be able to breathe without assistance, but still need help with bladder and bowel care. Patients still may be unable to walk. Annual lifetime financial expense average $109,000 per year.


Injuries to the thoracic vertebrae (upper to mid back) or lumbar vertebrae (lower back) typically result in paraplegia. The upper extremity functions remain normal, in most cases. Impairment stays below the waist, and some patients can walk with assistive devices like a walker for short distances. Financial costs run about $500,000 for the first year, and then $66,000 each year after.

Incomplete motor function at any level can have damaging financial effects, resulting in lifetime medical expenses and loss of work—or the inability to return to work at all.

Lifetime health issues

People with spinal cord injuries also deal with secondary health issues. They tend to contract kidney stones and bladder infections. Patients may also develop early onset osteoporosis. Other issues spinal cord patients contend with are muscle spasticity and syringomyelia, a numbness and weakness in the extremities.

Spinal cord injuries can be life-changing. The North Dakota injury attorneys at Larson Law Firm, P.C. provide experienced, compassionate representation, and fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney, call our Minot office at 701-484-HURT, or fill out our contact form.



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