The completeness of your spinal cord injury has a direct impact on whether you will experience secondary complications and on your recovery prognosis. Completeness refers to the degree of sensorimotor function you retain in the aftermath of your injury.
Two categories of completeness exist. The first is a complete spinal cord injury. The second is an incomplete spinal cord injury of which there are several degrees. You may anxiously await your doctor’s determination regarding your injury, but unfortunately, you will need patience.
You are probably in spinal shock
Spinal shock occurs in the immediate aftermath of your injury. Obviously, your body will take measures to protect and heal itself. However, that reaction could cause additional harm to your spinal cord since spinal shock causes a significant amount of inflammation, swelling, cell death, reduced blood flow and oxidation. The swelling alone stops anything below the point of injury to quit functioning. Your muscles are loose and floppy because they cannot receive signals from your brain.
Only after the swelling begins to subside and blood begins to flow to those muscles again will you truly know how much damage your spinal cord underwent during the accident that caused your injury. For this reason, you may not receive an accurate diagnosis during spinal shock. This process could take as little as a few days or as long as a few months.
Is your injury complete or incomplete?
When you doctors can finally determine whether your injury is complete or incomplete, your diagnosis will break down as follows depending on your situation:
- Complete or AIS (ASIA impairment scale) A: You have no sensation or motor control below the level of injury.
- Incomplete AIS B: You retain some sensation but have no control of your muscles below the level of injury.
- Incomplete AIS C: You retain sensation and some control of your muscles.
- Incomplete AIS D: You retain sensation and control of your muscles.
When you reach AIS E, your sensorimotor functions have returned to normal, which is the goal of your recovery and treatment. Obviously, your hope is that your injury falls into one of the incomplete categories. Even if it is, your road to recovery may still be a long one.
The last thing you should have to worry about is finances. If the negligence or recklessness of another person caused or contributed to your spinal cord injury, you may exercise your right to pursue the maximum amount of compensation available to you under Texas law.