Spinal Injuries that you can make a claim for

By Jason Brady

Radiologist doctor checking xray

Even a so-called ‘common’ spinal injury can severely affect your way of life. If this has been caused negligently or an accident, you could be entitled to compensation.

There are two broad categories of spinal injury:

Complete spinal cord injuries

Where the cord is severed completely all functionality will be lost. However, advances in medicine and treatment can in some cases provide for some recovery of function.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries

Where the cord is only partially severed, providing for the retention of some function, but this will be dependent on the extent of the injury in each case. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are reported to account for a growing proportion of spinal injuries due to better awareness of how to deal with patients with a back or neck injury posing a risk of damage to the spine. Improper handling or treatment of an individual with a partial spinal cord injury could make this worse, causing the cord to sever completely.


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Common incomplete spinal cord injuries include:

Anterior cord syndrome

An injury to the front of the spinal cord causes problems with controlling movement. Some sensations may be retained.

Central cord syndrome

Damage to the nerves carrying signals from the brain to the spinal cord causes issues with fine motor skills, paralysis of the arms and impairment in the legs to a lesser degree.

Brown-Sequard syndrome

Damage to one side of the spinal cord causes issues in movement and sensation in one side of the body.

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When speaking with doctors and other medical professionals you will often hear references to the following types of spinal injury.

Tetraplegia or quadriplegia

Where the injured individual is unable to move below part of the spine which is injured, potentially affecting bladder control as well as movement and sensation in the limbs. Breathing may also be affected due to the diaphragm being controlled by spinal nerves.


Refers to injuries resulting in loss of sensation and control of movement in the lower half of the body and legs. The higher up the spine the injury, the more severe the symptoms the injured individual is likely to present with.


Where sensation and control of movement are lost in one arm and both legs and is often the result of an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors successfully obtained £3.2million compensation for Mr Irving who suffered serious spinal injuries and was left disabled after falling down stairs.

Man in wheel chai

Diagnosing a spinal cord injury

Doctors, as well as paramedics at the scene of an emergency, will assess the location of an injury and particularly where there is an injury to the back, neck or head, be careful so as not to cause potential further damage to the spine.

Whilst in the most severe cases it will be clear there is an injury to the spinal cord, in incomplete or partial spinal injuries this may not be the case and there is the risk of a doctor or nurse misdiagnosing symptoms as being associated with another less serious condition or injury. Such misdiagnosis can be critical as the spine may be in a fragile state.

If the individual is unaware of this fragility and their vulnerability they may not behave in such a way so as to avoid them causing their injury to worsen.

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