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Classification and Severity Levels of Spinal Cord Injuries

Discover the differences between certain spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can have a profound impact on a person’s life, causing various degrees of physical and neurological impairment. Understanding the classification and severity levels of spinal cord injuries is crucial for both medical professionals and individuals affected by these injuries. In this article, we will delve into the different levels of classification and severity, what determines the severity of a spinal cord injury, the average rehabilitation time for individuals with such injuries, making a personal injury claim, and conclude with a summary of key points.

What Determines the Severity of a Spinal Cord Injury?

The severity of a spinal cord injury is determined by the extent of damage and the resulting loss of function. These injuries are typically classified into two main categories: complete and incomplete injuries.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

In a complete spinal cord injury, there is a total loss of sensory and motor function below the level of injury. This means that the affected individual has no voluntary movement or sensation in the areas controlled by the damaged portion of the spinal cord. Complete injuries often result in paralysis and may lead to significant long-term disability.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

On the other hand, incomplete spinal cord injuries involve partial loss of sensory and motor function. In this case, the individual retains some degree of sensation or voluntary movement below the level of injury. The severity and extent of functional loss can vary greatly depending on the specific location and nature of the injury. Incomplete injuries may result in varying levels of impairment, ranging from mild weakness or sensory deficits to more severe paralysis.

Average Rehabilitation Time for a Spinal Cord Injury

Recovery and rehabilitation time for individuals with spinal cord injuries vary depending on the severity of the injury, the specific location of the damage, and the individual’s overall health. The primary goal of rehabilitation is to enhance functional independence, improve quality of life, and maximize the individual’s potential for recovery.

Acute Rehabilitation Phase

In the acute rehabilitation phase, which typically begins soon after the injury, the focus is on stabilizing the patient’s condition and preventing further damage. Medical professionals work closely with the patient to address immediate medical needs, manage pain, and provide necessary interventions to reduce complications.

During this phase, rehabilitation specialists, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists, play a crucial role in designing individualized treatment plans. These plans often involve a combination of therapeutic exercises, mobility training, adaptive equipment, and assistive technologies to help individuals regain function and independence.

Subacute Rehabilitation Phase

Following the acute phase, patients may transition to subacute rehabilitation, which involves more intensive therapy and specialized care. This phase aims to build upon the progress made during the acute phase and further enhance functional abilities.

Rehabilitation programs in this phase may include additional therapies such as aquatic therapy, functional electrical stimulation, and gait training. The length of the subacute rehabilitation phase can vary, ranging from several weeks to several months, depending on the individual’s specific needs and rate of progress.

Long-Term Rehabilitation and Maintenance

After the initial rehabilitation phases, individuals with spinal cord injuries often continue with long-term rehabilitation and maintenance. This phase focuses on maintaining and improving functional abilities, managing secondary complications, and promoting overall well-being.

Long-term rehabilitation may involve periodic therapy sessions, ongoing medical care, and lifestyle adjustments to support an individual’s long-term health and independence. The duration of this phase is highly individualized and can extend over years or even a lifetime, as ongoing support is crucial for managing the long-term consequences of spinal cord injuries.

Someone receiving rehabilitation treatment for an injury

Making a Personal Injury Claim

When a spinal cord injury occurs due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, individuals may be eligible to make a personal injury claim. This legal process allows the injured person to seek compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages incurred as a result of the injury.

To make a successful personal injury claim, it is essential to consult with us at National Claims, where we specialise in personal injury cases. We will guide individuals through the claims process, gather evidence, and advocate on their behalf to ensure they receive fair and just compensation for their injuries and losses.


Understanding the classification and severity levels of spinal cord injuries is crucial for evaluating the impact of these injuries and planning appropriate rehabilitation strategies. The severity of a spinal cord injury is determined by the extent of damage and the resulting loss of function, categorized as either complete or incomplete injuries. The ASIA Impairment Scale further classifies spinal cord injuries into distinct categories to aid medical professionals in assessing severity and predicting recovery potential.

Rehabilitation time for spinal cord injuries varies based on factors such as severity, location, and individual health. The rehabilitation process typically involves acute and subacute phases, focused on stabilizing the patient’s condition, enhancing function, and maximizing independence. Long-term rehabilitation and maintenance are essential for managing the long-term consequences of spinal cord injuries and promoting overall well-being.

In cases where negligence or wrongdoing led to a spinal cord injury, individuals may have the option to make a personal injury claim to seek compensation for damages. Consulting with the knowledgeable team at National Claims can help navigate the legal process and ensure fair compensation for the injuries sustained. Understanding the classification and severity levels of spinal cord injuries empowers individuals and medical professionals to make informed decisions regarding treatment, rehabilitation, and legal recourse.

Contact us now and get started on your claim following your spinal cord injury.

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