In the United States, there are roughly 17,000 new spinal cord injuries (SCIs) every year. Trauma from an SCI is extremely serious, as it affects the brain’s ability to communicate with the body to perform autonomic functions, sensory and motor controls.
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of SCIs for people under the age of 65.
Classification of SCIs
The American Spinal Injury Association grading scale is the tool doctors use to determine the severity of spinal damage. The scale is as follows with ASIA A as the most severe classification:
- ASIA A: a complete spinal cord injury with total loss of sensory and motor function
- ASIA B: a complete loss of motor function with incomplete sensory loss
- ASIA C: an incomplete motor injury. There is some movement possible, but fewer than half of the muscle groups can lift against gravity with full range of motion.
- ASIA D: an incomplete motor injury. More than half of the muscle groups can lift against gravity with full range of motion.
- ASIA E: a normal motor and sensory function
Treatment and follow-up
Due to the life-threatening nature of spinal cord damage, treatment begins at the scene of the car crash, with paramedics carefully immobilizing your entire body. Under the care of medical professionals in the intensive care unit, you may need traction to realign your spine. If doctors diagnose you with a blood clot, herniated disc or lesion, your injuries may require emergency surgery. Rehabilitation is often long-term, including physical and occupational therapy.
If you suffer a severe spinal injury after an accident, you may never feel whole again. It is important to understand your rights when seeking compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering.