The Classification of Spinal Cord Injuries*


Complete v Incomplete Injuries*

Spinal cord injury solicitors will look to see whether the injury is complete or incomplete.

  • Complete spinal cord injury: Where there is no sensation or movement below the level of the injury.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injury: Where there is some sensation or movement below the level of the injury.

ASIA Model

In 1982, the American Spinal Cord Injury Association (ASIA) first published an internationally used and easy to understand classification of spinal cord injury called the International Standards for Neurological and Functional Classification of Spinal Cord Injury.

Even almost 40 years on, this publication is widely used to document sensory and motor impairments following spinal cord injury.

It is based on neurological responses, touch and pinprick sensations of 10 key muscles on each side of the body, including hip reflexion, shoulder shrugs, elbow flexion, wrist extension and elbow extension.

Using this classification, traumatic spinal cord injury is classified into 5 categories on the ASIA impatient scale:

  • A indicates a complete spinal cord injury.
  • B indicates an incomplete spinal cord injury where sensory function is preserved but not motor function.
  • C indicates an incomplete injury where motor function is preserved and more than half of the key muscles have a muscle grade of 3 or less .
  • D indicates an incomplete injury where motor function is preserved and at least half the key muscles have a muscle grade of 3 or more.
  • E indicates “normal” motor and sensory responses.


Spinal Cord Syndromes

A spinal cord injury can also to be classified as being one of the 7 types of syndromes listed below:

  1. Anterior Cord Syndrome – Predominantly affects the anterior 2/3 of the spinal cord and characteristically results in motor paralysis below the level of the lesion as well as the loss of pain and temperature also below the level of the lesion.
  2. Central Cord Syndrome – The most common form of incomplete injury characterised by impairment in the arms and the hands and to a lesser extent in the legs. The brain’s ability to send and receive signals to and from parts of the body below the site of the injury is reduced but not entirely blocked.
  3. Posterior Cord Syndrome (PCS) – This is also known as Posterior Spinal Artery Syndrome (PSA) and it is a type of incomplete injury. PCS is the least commonly occurring of the seven spinal cord injury symptom, with an incidence rate of 1%.
  4. Taebes Dorsalis Syndrome – This disease is more common in males. Onset is commonly during mid-life. The incidence of tabes dorsalsis is rising, in part due to co- associated HIV infection. Tabes dorsalis is a slow degeneration of the nerve cells and nerve fibres that carry sensory information to the brain.
  5. Conus Medularris Syndrome – This is a collection of signs and symptoms associated with injury to the conus medullaris – it typically causes back pain and bowel and bladder dysfunction, spastic, or flaccid weakness depending on the level of the lesion and bilateral sensory loss.
  6. Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) – This occurs when the nerve roots of the cauda equina are compressed and disrupt motor and sensory function to the lower extremities and bladder. Patients with this syndrome are often admitted to the hospital as a medical emergency. CES can lead to incontinence and even permanent paralysis.
  7. Brown Sequard Syndrome (BSS) – This is a rare neurological condition characterized by a lesion in the spinal cord which results in weakness or paralysis (hemi-paraplegia) on one side of the body and a loss of sensation (hemianesthesia) on the opposite side.

Specialist Spinal Injury* Solicitors

This office specialises in looking after those with spinal cord injuries who are seeking compensation. One of the first things we will look for is the type of spinal cord injury that has been sustained so that we are aware of the nature of the injury and do not simply assign it under the general category of ‘spinal injuries’. We are spinal cord injury solicitors.

Please feel free to call us on 01 6770044 if you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury.

As spinal cord injury solicitors, we undertake approximately 6 catastrophic cases a year, some of which are spinal cord injuries. These cases need the detail that other cases do not. The client who has sustained the injury also needs to know that the matter is being given detailed attention so they can concentrate on recovery.

For additional information regarding How to claim for catastrophic Spinal Cord Injury.

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