Waking up in the hospital after a car accident to find that you cannot feel your legs, or perhaps even most of your body, is a terrifying prospect. Some spinal injury victims eventually regain total or partial bodily function, but a lot of others never do.
The extent a spinal cord injury affects your body, and what parts of the body are affected, depends on the injury’s location and how severe it is. Doctors call the lowest part of the spinal cord that still functions normally after an injury as the “neurological level” of the injury.
If the neurological level is high enough, the victim may experience tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia. This affects the limbs, hands, torso and pelvic organs. Paraplegia affects all or part of the torso, legs and pelvic organs.
Another factor is the “completeness” of the injury. A complete spinal cord injury causes almost all sensory and motor function to cease below the site of the injury. A victim of an incomplete injury, on the other hand, retains some motor or sensory function.
From a legal perspective, one of the factors the court will consider during a personal injury trial is the extent to which the plaintiff was hurt. A spinal cord injury is one of the more severe ways a person can get hurt, because it can permanently cost the victim the use of some or all of his or her body.
This can force the victim to stop working, or severely limit his or her job options. It can badly reduce the victim’s quality of life, because many activities, such as walking, may no longer be possible.