Long-term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries By on November 11, 2020

digital image of the spinal cordSpinal cord injuries are some of the most damaging, not just because of their initial impact, but because of the ways they can affect the body long-term. Even if some injury effects resolve over time, spinal cord injury victims are likely to struggle with many medical complications for the rest of their lives.

When handling cases involving spinal cord injuries, personal injury attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, always consider the long-term effects of spinal cord injuries. It is important that these effects are acknowledged when calculating injury damages for our Salt Lake City, UT, clients.


One of the most likely, and most devastating, effects of a spinal cord injury is paralysis. Paralysis can be short-term, but it is more often permanent. The type of paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury will depend on the degree of injuries, as well as the location of the injury. Since the spinal cord controls movement by sending signals to the brain, paralysis generally affects any part of the body that falls below the point of injury. Types of paralysis that can result from a spinal cord injury include:

  • High tetraplegia - High tetraplegia impairs the ability to move or feel from the neck down. This condition causes the injury victim to require assistance with breathing, movement, and bladder and bowel functions.
  • Low tetraplegia - Low tetraplegia also affects movement below the neck, but it is not as severe as high tetraplegia. Low tetraplegia victims may be able to breathe on their own and they may retain some control of movement in the arms and/or hands.
  • Paraplegia - Paraplegia affects the lower extremities of the body, or those below the waist. Individuals with paraplegia are unable to feel or control movement in the legs and feet, and lack control of bladder and bowel functions.


Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones. Osteoporosis makes bones more prone to breaking. When osteoporosis is severe, even a minor bump can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis is typically associated with the elderly. However, it is highly common in individuals with a spinal cord injury. Most people with severe spinal cord injuries develop osteoporosis within just a couple of years of their injury.

Muscle Spasticity

Muscle spasticity is another common long-term effect of spinal cord injuries among our Salt Lake City clients. Muscle spasticity is characterized by uncontrollable spasms or twitches that occur when the muscles contract. This exaggerated movement often happens sporadically, but it can cause the muscles to be locked in place for prolonged periods of time.


Syringomyelia develops when a cyst or cavity forms in the spinal cord. Syringomyelia may present itself months or years after a spinal cord injury. This condition causes numbness or weakness in the extremities. Syringomyelia is a progressive condition that only worsens over time. Eventually, injury victims may require surgery to drain cysts.


Spinal cord injuries can affect multiple areas of the body. If individuals lose control of any part of the body, that area is more susceptible to complications, including infection. Infections that are common in spinal cord injury victims include pneumonia, bladder infections, and kidney stones.


The physical effects of a spinal cord injury can have a significant impact on a person’s mental state. It is highly common for spinal cord injury victims to struggle with depression in the weeks, months, or years following their injury. Adapting to the physical changes caused by an injury can leave people feeling helpless, fatigued, and uninterested in work, hobbies, family, or friends.

Contact Us

If you have suffered from a spinal cord injury that was caused by another person’s reckless or negligent actions, you may be owed compensation for your losses. The personal injury attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, work hard to ensure that all damages are accounted for, including those that are long-term. To discuss your case, contact us online or call our Salt Lake City practice at (801) 335-7025.

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Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC

Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC

At Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, our attorneys have decades of combined experience in complex cases. We represent clients in all types of personal injury cases, with a special focus on medical malpractice claims. Our firm is associated with the following professional organizations:

  • Utah Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Salt Lake County Bar Association
  • American Trial Lawyers Association

To schedule an appointment, please contact us online or call (801) 335-6467.

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