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What Are the Complications of a Non-Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury?

Many spinal cord injuries (SCIs) result in some degree of paralysis—but not all.

Spinal cord injuries are classified either “complete” or “incomplete” (non-paralyzing), but that does not mean non-paralyzing injuries are harmless or have no long-term consequences.

People who suffer complete spinal cord injuries lose all control and feeling from the sites of their injuries and below, while people who suffer incomplete “non-paralyzing” spinal cord injuries often still lose some, but not all, control and feeling from the sites of their injuries and below.

Furthermore, the distinction between the two isn’t always so clear-cut. Some people with complete injuries that occur in the lowest levels of the spine—the lumbar and sacral regions—can sometimes walk with assistance. People with non-paralyzing and certain complete SCIs often suffer from profound disabilities and complications that can result in big medical bills, lost wages, and decades of pain and suffering.

As Oklahoma spinal cord injury lawyers, we help complete and incomplete SCI victims get compensation for the following complications.

Impaired Mobility

People who suffer non-paralyzing SCIs still have movement and feeling in their legs, but their legs may be too weak for them to walk without assistance. It’s common for people with non-paralyzing SCIs to rely on canes, walkers, and even wheelchairs for mobility. Some non-paralyzing SCI victims can maintain or even build muscle tone and strength after their accidents, but many can’t and are never able to regain their previous level of mobility.

Chronic Pain

Nerve damage often results in chronic pain. When nerves can’t communicate with the brain or other parts of the body effectively, pain is often the result. In addition, people with non-paralyzing SCIs may experience pain due to overuse of certain muscles to compensate for weakened muscles. They may also suffer from pressure sores caused by forced inactivity and lack of movement.


The same miscommunication between nerves, the brain, and the body that causes pain can also cause numbness and abnormal sensations. Numbness can put non-paralyzing SCI victims at risk of suffering severe burns, cuts, and other skin damage because they may not realize their skin is being damaged by hot stoves/water, knives, harsh chemicals, and more.

Breathing Problems

People with non-paralyzing SCIs that occur above their lungs may have trouble breathing. That’s because the nerves that control their diaphragms, abdominal muscles, and chest muscles may become damaged, leading to scrambled communication between those areas of their bodies and their brains.

In addition to experiencing problems breathing both during day-to-day life and during physical activity, non-paralyzing SCI victims also may be at a higher risk of developing respiratory infections such as pneumonia due to the weakened state of their respiratory systems.

Poor Circulation

Non-paralyzing SCIs can interfere with every part of the body at or below the injury site, including circulation. Non-paralyzing SCI victims may have trouble maintaining healthy and consistent blood pressure, have a higher risk of developing blood clots, and may develop swelling in their legs and feet due to blood pooling in those areas.


Bladder and bowel incontinence is a complication that complete and non-paralyzing SCI victims often share. Because the muscles and nerves that control bladder and bowel control are in the sacral region of the spinal cord, which is its lowest region, virtually all SCI victims experience some degree of lost control over these functions.

Sexual Dysfunction

Despite often having some degree of sensation and mobility, people with non-paralyzing SCIs often experience sexual problems and dysfunction. Both men and women also may experience impairments in fertility and their ability to conceive children after non-paralyzing SCIs.

Depression and Anxiety

Non-paralyzing SCI victims often become depressed and anxious after their injuries. That’s because they may lose the ability to engage in their favorite hobbies, exercise, walk without assistance, play with their children, and more. In addition, other people may not take SCI victims’ injuries—or the impact their injuries have on their lives—seriously, especially if they’re able to walk without assistance.

What Are the Common Causes of Non-Paralyzing SCIs?

People often suffer non-paralyzing SCIs in the same way others suffer paralyzing SCIs. They can be caused by:

  • Car accidents
  • Bicycle and motorcycle accidents
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Work-related accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Acts of violence
  • Surgical mistakes
  • and more

Complete or Incomplete SCI? Our Oklahoma Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Want to Help.

Some people who have suffered SCIs may be able to walk under their own power, while others may be paralyzed from the neck down and be unable to breathe without mechanical assistance.

Although there are often big differences in impairment levels after SCIs, we believe that all SCI victims who were injured because of others’ negligence deserve compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one suffered a complete or incomplete SCI because of someone else’s negligence, we want to help. The legal team at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers will fight for your rights to get the money you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.