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Understanding different types of spinal cord injuries

Millions of people sustain injuries in motor vehicle accidents every year. One of the most significant injuries a person can develop as a result is a spinal cord injury. This can lead to a number of effects on a person's life, including loss of movement, loss of sensation and exaggerated reflex reactions. 

Many people who end up in car accidents sustain minimal injuries. However, it is critical to remain aware of the worst-case scenarios to know what kind of medical treatment you may need should you ever find yourself in such a situation. 

Complete injury

In a complete injury, the affected individual becomes unable to move or feel below the point of the injury. A person's spine is made up of several different components, such as the cervical spinal cord, thoracic spinal cord, lumbar spinal cord, sacral spine and coccyx. This injury generally only occurs in extreme circumstances where the impact resulted in compressed vertebrae, dislocation or fracture. 

Incomplete injury

An incomplete injury means that a person will not lose total control of functionality. However, it can become severely limited. An incomplete injury typically occurs after damage to a disc. The damage will escalate if the condition does not receive medical attention promptly. Without prompt treatment, fluid accumulation, inflammation and internal bleeding can occur and exacerbate the issue. 

Paralysis

Paralysis can occur to varying degrees after a spinal cord injury. Some people will experience tetraplegia, which happens when paralysis develops in both legs and arms. Paraplegia occurs when paralysis develops in both legs and can also include immobility of the lower body and pelvis. Some people will develop hemiplegia, which occurs when paralysis occurs on one side of the body. For example, a person would be unable to use his or her right arm and leg while the other two limbs maintain motion. 

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