A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function, such as mobility and/or feeling. Frequent causes of damage are trauma or disease.
The spinal cord does not have to be severed for a loss of function to occur. In fact, in most people with spinal cord injury, the cord is intact, but the damage to it results in loss of function. Spinal cord injury is very different from back injuries, such as ruptured disks, spinal stenosis or pinched nerves.
A person can “break their back or neck” yet not sustain a spinal cord injury if only the bones around the spinal cord (the vertebrae) are damaged, but the spinal cord is not affected. In these situations, the individual may not experience paralysis after the bones are stabilized.
According to the Shepherd Center, in the United States, about 450,000 people are living with spinal cord injuries. There are about 12,000 new SCIs every year, and the majority of them (82 percent) involve males between the ages of 16-30. These injuries result from motor vehicle crashes/collisions (36 percent), violence (28.9 percent) or falls (21.2 percent).
Spinal cord injuries, like brain injuries, can be catastrophic. If you are lucky enough to survive the initial injury your life is fundamentally altered in a split second. The most catastrophic injuries involve paralysis and are classified in these ways:
- Quadriplegia—Loss of movement in all four limbs, chest muscles are affected and the patient usually needs a breathing machine.
- Triplegia—Loss of movement in one arm and both legs.
- Paraplegia—Loss of movement and sensation in both legs.
Critically injured patients will need 24/7 care the rest of their lives, others will be able to lead independent lives with a lot of support. Patient costs add up beyond medical care–vocational training, special equipment, home care and psychological counseling will all be necessary.
Sometimes spinal cord injuries are not apparent right away. You may have been in a fender-bender and discounted your injuries. You think a few trips to a physical therapist or chiropractor and you’ll be back in business. Some symptoms of spinal cord injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
- Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs
If you or a loved one have experienced spine injuries because of another party’s negligent or reckless conduct, let us help. Our goal is to secure the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Contact us today.