Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law

Spinal Cord Injuries

Many injuries just take time to heal. Bruises and cuts heal over time, and broken bones fuse back together. But some types of injuries are more serious, including spinal cord, back, neck, and brain injuries. A severe spinal cord injury could even lead to paralysis.

If you suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash or other accident, seek medical attention immediately. If you want to know if you can get compensation for the injuries, talk to a personal injury lawyer for legal advice.

What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system that connects the nerves in your body to your brain. This allows you to feel, move, touch, and maintain normal sensory function. The spinal column protects your spinal cord, which is very susceptible to injury. The spinal cord can suffer severe damage when force punctures, damages, or impacts it.

When the spinal cord suffers damage, it can prevent regular communication with the nerves at any area below that point in the rest of the body. For example, lower spinal cord damage could impair nerve function in the legs, but the arms may not have any ill effects. A complete spinal cord injury could result in full paralysis of all body parts. The vertebrae (the bones in your spine) are from top to bottom:

  • Cervical
  • Thoracic
  • Lumbar
  • Sacral
  • Coccyx

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), motor vehicle accidents and catastrophic falls are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries. Other leading causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Sports injuries
  • Work-related injuries
  • Birth injuries
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Industrial accidents
  • Medical or surgical injury
  • Slip and fall
  • Motorcycle accident
  • Spinal shock

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries?

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury can range from minor to major. The areas where the symptoms occur could help a doctor determine what type of spinal cord injury you have and where it is. If you experience any signs of a spinal cord injury after an accident, seek immediate medical attention. Any delays could harm your recovery.

Some of the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Motor function impairment
  • Loss of sensation
  • Loss of bowel control and bladder control
  • Problems walking
  • Problems breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the neck or back
  • Problems with sexual function
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia (tetraplegia)

Not all spinal cord injuries develop immediately after the accident. Some injuries may present hours or even days later with swelling or bleeding.

How Do Doctors Treat Spinal Cord Injuries?

Immediately after the accident, emergency medical care generally focuses on immobilizing the back, neck, and head. The paramedics or ambulance may use c-spine (cervical spine) interventions, including a cervical neck collar and strapping the patient to a rigid backboard. Doctors in the emergency room will check the patient to diagnose a possible spinal cord injury. Imaging options include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans, or X-rays.

Depending on the cause of the trauma, a surgeon may do spinal surgery to remove any bone fragments, herniated discs, or broken vertebrae pressing on the spinal column. Doctors may realign the spine with a brace to stabilize the spine to reduce the risk of more damage from movement.

If the patient has severe spinal cord damage and has limited movements, they may have difficulty breathing and need a breathing tube or respirator. Over time, they may have circulatory problems, loss of muscle movement, urinary tract infections from catheters, and pressure sores. Spinal cord injuries can cause severe pain and require medication and other pain control methods.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury?

The long-term effects of a traumatic spinal cord injury depend on several factors, including:

  • Age of the injury victim
  • The health of the victim
  • The severity of the injury
  • Level of the injury
  • Spinal cord injury rehabilitation

Many spinal cord injuries are permanent. Medical advances happen every day, but many victims of accidents involving back, neck, and spinal cord damage will have to live with their injuries. In some cases, the injuries can get worse over time. As people age, they may lose muscle mass, bone density, suffer pressure ulcers, and have changes to their health.

Spinal cord injury victims often suffer depression and other mental health conditions because of a change in their quality of life.

Over the long term, spinal cord injury victims may need ongoing health care, including:

  • Spinal cord surgery
  • Pain management
  • Mental health treatment
  • Physical therapy
  • Nursing home care
  • Assistive devices
  • Wheelchairs
  • Home modifications
  • In-home care for activities of daily living (ADL)

Can I Get Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury?

If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, someone else may have caused your injuries. If someone is at-fault for the accident, they could be financially responsible for your damages. Fault in an accident is generally based on negligence. For example, if a driver negligently caused your accident, they may be liable for damages. If a property owner didn’t repair a dangerous stair railing and you fell, the property owner may be liable.

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover financial compensation for your damages. Damages include economic and non-economic losses. In a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover money for:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress

Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help in a Spinal Cord Injury Case?

You can hire a personal injury attorney in a spinal cord injury case. Your lawyer can review your case, identify who was responsible, and file a lawsuit for damages. Your lawyer can negotiate a settlement so you can get the care you need. If you have any questions about spinal cord injuries and how much your case might be worth, talk to a personal injury lawyer for help.

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