Making sense of the medical jargon your doctors use

You were in a motor vehicle accident. In those few seconds, which may have seemed like an eternity at the same time, you suffered a spinal cord injury.

In the flurry of activity that occurred after the crash, you may not have had time to truly understand what doctors were telling you. Right now, all you know is that you have little or no sensation or movement below a certain point in your body. More than likely, you are scared and unsure of your future. It may help to have at least some understanding of what is going on with your body.

What does it mean to suffer a spinal cord injury?

Your spinal column includes the vertebrae that protect your spinal cord. Your spinal cord carries all of the messages from your brain to the rest of your body and from the rest of your body to your brain. When you suffer an injury to your spinal cord, the messages don’t get through.

What does it mean to have a complete or incomplete injury?

Two types of spinal cord injuries include a complete injury and an incomplete injury. In a complete spinal cord injury, the cord severs, resulting in a total lack of motion and sensation. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, the spinal column remains intact. However, it may be a crushed, compressed, dislocated, burst or fractured spinal column. You may still have some sensation and motion with an incomplete injury.

How does the location of your injury affect you?

The location of the injury also affects your bodily functions. For example, if your injury occurred in the cervical spine, which is in your neck area, you may lose sensation and motion in all of your extremities. One primary concern in this type of injury is your ability to breathe since autonomic, or automatic, functions of the body, such as breathing, can experience interruption.

In contrast, if your injury occurred in your lumbar spine, which is in your lower back, you may still have function of your arms, and your ability to breathe may not be as much of a concern. Doctors will prescribe different treatments, depending on where your injury occurred.

You face an uncertain future

Even if doctors believe that you will achieve a full recovery, you could spend months unable to move and dealing with associated medical issues. You may also face lifelong paralysis. In any event, you may be experiencing stress and anxiety regarding your finances. If someone else caused your injuries through negligence or recklessness, you may find it appropriate to pursue the compensation you deserve through litigation.

An attorney can advocate on your behalf in this endeavor, which would more than likely reduce your stress so that you can focus on your recovery and adjust to your new circumstances.