Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating of any type of injury. A perfectly healthy person with an active life can find themselves to be completely paralyzed in a split second if the injury is caused by sudden trauma. There are, however, a number of spinal injuries that result in a sort of slow disintegration of movement and function if they are caused by certain diseases or hereditary disorders.
Complete or Incomplete Injury
Any type of injury to the spine can be devastating, but some injuries allow the victim to continue on with his or her life in a fairly normal fashion while others render life as he or she knew it completely gone. Most of this depends on whether the injury was "complete" or "incomplete."
o Complete-this indicates that the injury was such that no motor or sensory function was preserved in the sacral segments. This is by far the most devastating of these injuries. A complete spinal cord injury results in near to complete paralysis with no ability to move any part of the body. This is especially disheartening as the mind is often completely in tact, so the victim is aware of the extent of his or her disability and forced to come to terms with his or her current state of life.
o Incomplete-there are several different types of incomplete spinal injuries. Incomplete indicates that there is still a certain degree of either motor or sensory function. The incomplete label may indicate:
o Type B-this is an incomplete injury in which there is sensory but not motor function preserved.
o Type C-this incomplete is assigned when there is motor function preserved and more than half of key muscles have a muscle grade of 3 or more. This means there is active movement with full range of motion.
o Type D-this incomplete spinal injury is when motor function is preserved and at least half of the key muscles have a muscle grade of 3 or motor.
o Type E-this type indicates "normal." Basically there is complete and normal movement with little to no impairment. It is possible to have a spinal cord injury with completely normal motor and sensory scores. These types of injuries may involve serious pain rather than motor impairment.